Goons attempt to disrupt protest for press freedom
The saga of the Cape Times and South Africa's Independent Newspapers (INL) group plumbed new depths of farce this afternoon (December 17) when a rent-a-crowd arrived in the city to support the putative new owner, Iqbal Survé.
A busload of elderly pensioners was the first to arrive to confront a picket that grew to some 150 people protesting the sacking of Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois and supporting editorial independence for INL titles.
The pensioners, from the Belhar suburb north of the city, carried expensively produced, two-colour placards demanding the dismissal of "racist journalists" and, in particular, assistant editor and Man Friday columnist Tony Weaver. They also carried glossy, full-colour A2 posters of newspaper front pages referring to the death of Nelson Mandela, posters that claimed the Cape Times had ignored this historic event.
But the Cape Times did not ignore the event. And Weaver, in his column, spelled out how Alide Dasnois and the Cape Times team had put together a four-page wraparound that earned that newspaper the accolade of having one of the 14 best "Mandela front pages in the world".
Not that any of the nine pensioners interviewed was aware of these events or of the journalists mentioned. "We were told we could come in a bus to Cape Town and would get food at the [St George's] cathedral," one woman said. Her two companions readily agreed: "We don't know what all this is about," they added. Others nodded in agreement, but would not comment although one muttered: "Ek dink ons is misgebruik." (I think we are misused)