SABC break-in meant to intimidate journalists – R2K

Organisation says ongoing and invasive 'security vetting' of Parliament's civilian staff has also led to concerns of intimidation

R2K statement on the SABC Parliamentary office break-in!

24 April 2017

The Right2Know Campaign views the recent break-in at the SABC's office in Parliament as an attack on the public broadcaster and on Parliament itself.

We are particularly concerned that journalists' computers were targeted in the break-in, suggesting the possibility that those behind the crime were after a sensitive or personal information that is on the journalists' computers.

We note that this incident has happened in a context where there is a broader pattern of harassment and targeting of SABC workers, as well as previously unexplained break-ins where laptops and other devices containing sensitive information were stolen. This includes the recent theft of computers at the offices of the Chief Justice, as well as prior break-ins at the homes and offices of dissidents unionists, progressive academics and students associated with protest movements. In light of this, there is a very real possibility that the break-in at the SABC offices is part of a deliberate campaign aimed to intimidate and to interfere with the free flow of information.

The issue of security at Parliament must also be addressed. R2K has consistently raised concerns about the increased, heavy-handed security measures introduced to Parliament since 2014, as a direct response to the political climate within the legislature. These security measures have made it more difficult for ordinary members of the public to access Parliament, and at times have hampered media freedom within Parliament. The ongoing and invasive 'security vetting' of Parliament's civilian staff has also led to concerns of intimidation and targeting of whistleblowers. In other words, these security measures have made Parliament less transparent and open, but have not stopped genuine security breaches such as this one.

In light of this, we call on the SAPS and Parliamentary security to conduct a thorough investigation into this burglary and bring the criminals responsible to book. We further call on members of Parliament to review Parliament's controversial security measures.

Issued by Busi Mtabane, Right2Know Communicator, 24 April 2017