NEWS & ANALYSIS

Hawks trying to obfuscate serious issues – SANEF

Forum reiterates call for police to stop putting pressure on journalists to reveal their sources

SANEF responds to Hawk's statement and welcomes Primedia's investigation into editorial interference

31 August 2019

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) wishes to put the record straight regarding a statement released on Monday by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) or the Hawks. The Hawks took note of an article by the African News Agency titled, “Intimidation and bullying by authorities is on the rise – SANEF”.

The Hawks statement, issued by its spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, attempts to obfuscate serious issues raised in a statement by SANEF about policing agencies harassing journalists to reveal their sources. Mulaudzi denied that the Hawks were behind recent attempts by the Durban Central Police Station to get Daily Maverick journalist Marianne Thamm to reveal her sources. This followed an article she wrote about the appointment of Colonel Sthembiso Mhlongo – who has been implicated at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture - as the DPCI’s Acting Provincial Commander for Organised Crime in KwaZulu-Natal.

In his statement, Mulaudzi said that the “Detective Service at station level” was following up on a complaint lodged by Mhlongo “in his personal capacity”. (SANEF notes, of course, that he is the subject of Thamm’s exposé). Mulaudzi tried to divorce the DPCI from this complaint, even though Mhlongo is an acting head within the DPCI. In a detailed response to the Hawks statement, Daily Maverick wrote in an editorial on Tuesday that it “Smells like intimidation whichever way you perfume it”.

SANEF stands by its statement and reiterates the call for ALL policing agencies to stop putting pressure on journalists to reveal their sources. Incidents that were raised in the SANEF statement highlight the urgency of arranging a meeting between SANEF and the SAPS to discuss crucial aspects of engagement between the media and the country’s law enforcement agencies. SANEF has approached the National Commissioner of Police, General Khehla Sitole to set a date and we hope to meet with him shortly.

Primedia’s Independent Investigation into Censorship Issues

On another issue SANEF welcomes the launch of Primedia’s independent investigation into editorial interference headed by Adv. Terry Motau. SANEF is carefully watching the process and we encourage Primedia to make the recommendations public. We believe that editorial independence is a cornerstone of good journalism.

Issued by Kate Skinner, SANEF Executive Director, 31 July 2019