Protesters demand right to information

2010-10-19 15:13

About 300 hundred people marched to the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg to protest against the Protection of Information Bill today.

Clad in white T-shirts with the words: “I demand the right to know: let the truth be told”, and waving placards saying: “Ignorance is not bliss: stop the return to the apartheid era”, the marchers gathered at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and made their way to the Constitutional Court. Some of the marchers’ mouths were taped.

The march was organised by Right to Know Campaign but joined by community organisations such as the Anti-Privatisation Forum.

One of the marchers, Sebotse Soke said: “We oppose the Protection of Information Bill because politicians want to hide their corruption and abuse public funds.” Another marcher, Daryl Glaser, an academic at Wits, said: “Democracy without freedom of expression is like a car without an engine.”

Right to Know Campaign member Siphiwe Segodi said they were opposed to the bill in its current format and wanted the Minister of State Security, Siyabonga Cwele, to revise it.

If passed into law, the bill will prevent journalists from possessing classified government information and impose sentences of up to 25 years in prison.

“The bill in its current format needs to be revised and maximum participation from the public must take place and the input from the public must be taken into account,” said Segodi.

Some of the marchers did not know the reason for the march, but Gabriela Razzano of Right to Know Campaign blamed leaders of organisations that supported the march for not explaining the purpose to their members.

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