South Africa
its provisions for censorship and heavy
prison sentences – is still awaiting the
signature of President Jacob Zuma to
enact it into law, some three years after
its passage through Parliament.
Other laws that continue to plague journalists are the National Key Points Act,
which prevents publication of information related to security aspects of certain
institutions and buildings; the Protection
from Harassment Act – which despite
the good causes it serves, can restrict
journalists from gathering information
by “staking out” the office or home of a
person who refuses to answer questions
over the telephone; anti-terrorism legislation called the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and
Related Activities Act; and the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair
Discrimination Act.

Press faces hostility from police,
public and student demonstrators
Meanwhile, the press is confronting
another issue that has taken on a more
ominous character in the past year – the
increasing hostility of the police and
authorities towards the press, as well as
violence towards journalists by people
protesting against government policies
and lack of service delivery.
Journalists and photographers covering the #feesmustfall protests across the
country – protests directed at universities and other higher education institutions to not raise their fees, or not levy
any fees at all on impoverished students
– complained that they were intimidated and harassed by the police, security
staff and the protestors.
Government leaders continue to call the
press “the opposition” and adopt prac-

tices that obstruct the press and prevent
the public from being informed. The
press and many civil society institutions
have been highly critical of the misrule,
serious shortcomings in service delivery,
ever-increasing levels of corruption and
other deficiencies in government. In response, the government has resorted to
attempts to cloak its activities in secrecy.
Officials obfuscate or withhold information – including official reports that
should be released. SANEF has continued to raise its concerns about police
hostility towards journalists – including
unlawful police actions such as deleting
pictures from photographers’ cameras –
at meetings with the Acting National Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General
Johannes Khomotso Phahlane.
As reported in the last year’s STID, it
was decided to compile a booklet outlining how journalists and police officers should behave at crime or incident
scenes, especially towards each other.
The booklet, distributed to journalists and the police, fits into a person’s
pocket so that it can be taken out and
presented to the police or a reporter if
there are complaints about one or the
other misbehaving. It is uncertain how
effective it is.
Journalists complain about people demonstrating in the streets attacking them,
probably because they fear their pictures could result in them being identified by the police and charged in court.
One of the worst instances was the
outbreak of violence in Tshwane Municipality (Pretoria) in June, when there
were violent disruptions over nominations for the office of the mayor in the
municipal elections. Groups of residents
took to the streets to voice their protests
and violence broke out. A high level of
hostility and intimidation was displayed
towards journalists and photographers
covering the unrest. A number were at-

So This is Democracy? 2016


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