'We are watching you, let the journalists work'

2016-06-23 08:16
Karabo Ngoepe, News24

Karabo Ngoepe, News24

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Karabo Ngoepe, News24

As I sit at home and reflect on the day’s proceedings, my heart bleeds. The violence that has been mooted towards journalists in Tshwane today has left me emotionally drained.

From the assault and intimidation that (fellow News24 reporter) Jeff Wicks and I received at the hands of police in Ga-Rankuwa to journalist Mojahied, being robbed of his cellphone to journalist Horisani Sethole being bitten and mugged to journalist Boikhutso BK Ntsoko being restricted from shooting videos.

Then to journalist Jody Jacobs and his colleagues being robbed in Mamelodi. We go to all these communities to carry their messages to their leaders but they turn on us. The very same people attacking journalists in their areas are the first ones to contact us when they feel hard done by politicians or criminals.

The same officer who assaulted us, when he was having trouble with his employer, would run to the media and seek assistance. The residents of all the areas, when they have an impasse with their employers and want to take to the streets, call us to get their message and demands across.

Party members turn to the media when they are not happy with organisational decisions.

They end up recording proceedings of their hardships in the different environments they are in and give them to the media to publish so that they can get help.

Politicians call press briefings to get their messages to the public.

I raise all of this to indicate the important role that media plays and the fact that society as a whole recognises this role.

Today, however, society as a whole has turned on the very same vessel it uses to communicate messages. Today we are being seen as the enemy and subjected to the most painful abuse while trying to get their messages across.

As I type this, some of my fellow comrades are in a burning township somewhere fearing for their lives because those in the townships, areas that we actually live in, have turned on us.

Our neighbours, homeboys, friends and parents see us as enemies and are leading the chants to inflict pain on us.

South Africa, the media is not your enemy. We in the media are part of society, we are part of the community, we are residents of these very same townships that are burning. We don't find joy in what is happening but because that is our job and what allows us to put food on the table, we have to report.

We also vote to elect the party that governs our country. We pay taxes just like everyone else. We are who we are because of our society. We are a reflection of society and not the instigators.

My fellow South Africans, I beg of you. I humbly request you to allow us to do our jobs just like you do. No one hinders you when you perform your duties so why do that to us?

I would like to thank the residents of Ga-Rankuwa Zone 6 who were at the Shoprite U Save when the officers were mistreating us.

To those of you who screamed and shouted, "We are watching you, let the journalists work," I'm eternally grateful. By being there and witnessing what was happening, you guys most probably saved me and my colleague from what could have turned into a violent scene.

- Karabo Ngoepe is a News24 journalist. Follow him on Twitter.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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