Suna Venter has died – Family

SABC 8 journo’s heart condition exacerbated by vicious harassment over past year

29 June 2017

Its with great sadness that we announce the death of SABC senior producer of RSG Current Affairs Suna Venter. Venters body was discovered on Thursday morning at her flat in Fairlands.

Venter was 32 years old at the time of her passing. She had recently been diagnosed with a cardiac condition known as stress cardiomyopathy, or Broken Heart Syndrome, believed to be caused by trauma and prolonged periods of unnatural stress.

Venter made headlines last year when she was suspended from the public broadcaster, along with a number of colleagues who would later be known as the SABC 8. The group was suspended after they voiced their concerns about unlawful interference in the newsrooms and illegal editorial policies that were being implemented at the SABC. Specifically, those editorial policies pertaining to the broadcast of violent protests.

They were summarily dismissed, but later reinstated by the Labour Court after their dismissals were found to be wrongful. Despite this victory, and a Parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee investigation into the affairs of the SABC, Venter was the victim of continued intimidation, victimisation and death threats.

Over the course of the past year, she received various threatening SMS messages. Her flat was broken into on numerous occasions, the brake cables of her car were cut and her cars tyres were slashed. She was shot at and abducted - tied to a tree at Melville Koppies while the grass around her was set alight. On a separate occasion earlier this year, she was shot in the face with an unknown weapon and received surgery to remove the metal pellets from her face. During the past year, she was assaulted on three various occasions.

Those closest to her believe that her condition was exacerbated, if not caused, by the events of the past year.

Venter joined the SASC eight years ago as a producer at RSG Current Affairs.

Executive producer of RSG Current Affairs Foeta Krige confirmed her death and says she was, from the start, passionate about international news and current affairs. During her time as producer she was involved with Gift of The Givers in various humanitarian missions in war-torn Libya, Gaza, Egypt and Syria.

"She cared so much about the situation in Syria that she took leave right after the war began to report for RSG from the frontlines," says Krige. "She remained passionate about the welfare of the children she encountered on these assignments up until her death."

For the past year, as part of the so-called SABC 8, her main aim was to establish an independent newsroom free from editorial interference within the embattled public broadcaster. Krige says that Venter was one of the most dedicated and passionate journalists that he ever had the pleasure of working with. Even when doctors advised her to walk away from the stressful working environment at the SABC, she replied that she cannot go before the battle is won.

Venter is survived by her father and mother, Phillip and Christa Venter, and brother and sister Wilhelm and Tessa.

Issued on behalf of the Venter family, 29 June 2017