Sanef goes to court over signal jamming

2015-02-14 14:22

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The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has decided to go to court over the jamming of signal at the state of the nation address.

Sanef said it wanted to “prevent any future attempts by state security agencies from unlawfully blocking communications signals aimed at interfering with journalists’ constitutionally protected rights and freedoms”.

The forum took this decision and several others at its council meeting today, following what it called the “shocking, illegal clampdown on freedom of expression in Parliament during the State of the Nation address on Thursday night”.

“We believe these unconstitutional actions were an attempt by both the legislature and the executive to prevent journalists from telling the nation the full version of Thursday night’s events,” Sanef said in a statement issued after its meeting.

It pointed to the use of cellphone scrambling devices, the refusal by Parliament to show the eviction of MPs by security officials, and the “intimidation of journalists and attempts by security officials to prevent reporters from conducting interviews with MPs who had just been ejected from Parliament” as among its major concerns.

In its statement, Sanef said it also wanted the courts to “compel Parliament to allow broadcasters to install their own TV cameras in Parliament to cover the proceedings fairly and openly”.

“This after Parliament refused our request to do so. We will challenge the refusal by the Office of the Speaker to provide unedited footage of the proceedings of Parliament.”

Sanef will also demand a meeting “with the Speaker and President Jacob Zuma, as head of the executive, for a full explanation, an investigation and an assurance that the rights and freedoms of the media and the public shall not be violated again”.

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