Journalist Suna Venter remembered as tenacious, fearless fighter

2017-06-29 19:16
Suna Venter (Netwerk24)

Suna Venter (Netwerk24)

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Cape Town – Tributes poured in for senior SABC radio producer Suna Venter on Thursday following the announcement of her untimely death due to a heart condition that may have been stress-related.

Venter, 32, had recently been diagnosed with a cardiac condition known as stress cardiomyopathy or "Broken Heart Syndrome", which could cause rapid and severe heart muscle weakness.

Her body was discovered in her Johannesburg flat on Thursday morning.

"Those closest to her believe that her condition was exacerbated, if not caused, by the events of the past year," her family said.

She was part of a group of eight SABC journalists who were fired, and seven later reinstated, for objecting to former COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng's policy of no longer airing footage of violent protests.

Their reinstatement and a subsequent Parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee investigation into the affairs of the SABC were lauded as a victory.

Despite this, she was the victim of continued intimidation, victimisation and death threats.

The SABC interim board expressed its shock at the news.

"Ms Suna Venter was a principled journalist who brought pride to journalism for standing up for ethical journalistic principles in the face of attempts to subvert these principles," said SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago.

He said her life and principles should bring pride to all media colleagues.

The interim board extended condolences to her family, friends and those she had worked with.

The South African National Editors’ Forum said she would always be remembered for never giving up.

“She believed in the role of the public broadcaster as enshrined in our constitution to play a central role in strengthening our democracy.”

Trade union Solidarity, who represented Venter and others in the Labour Court, said it was saddened by the news of her death.

Shot in the face

“Suna was a fighter and lived for what she believed in,” said Solidarity CEO Dirk Hermann.

The Democratic Alliance agreed that Venter had fought for freedom, transparency and independence of the media.

“She was fearless in her fight, despite suffering undue threats, trauma and victimisation,” said DA spokesperson Phumzile van Damme.

Venter was shot in the face with a pellet gun at the beginning of the year, after coming out of a restaurant in Linden, Johannesburg, while buying take-away food.

She received surgery to remove the metal pellets from her face.

Over the past year, she also received threatening messages on her phone.

"Her flat was broken into on numerous occasions, the brake cables of her car were cut and her car’s tyres were slashed. She was shot at and abducted - tied to a tree at Melville Koppies while the grass around her was set alight," her family said.

During the past year, she was assaulted on three various occasions. 

She is survived by her parents, Phillip and Christa Venter, and siblings Wilhelm and Tessa.

The DA said it would be following up with the police as no arrests had been made.

Read more on:    sabc  |  suna venter  |  johannesburg  |  media  |  sabc 8

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