Durban – New Age editor-in-chief Moegsien Williams hit back at EFF leader Julius Malema on Thursday, saying he was South Africa's very own Donald Trump.
"It [Malema’s statements] reminds me a lot of Donald Trump in the United States... who wants to ban Muslims and throw reporters out of press conferences.
"He is our very own Donald Trump and I worry about that kind of language when we have an election coming up," he said.
Williams was speaking during an interview on ANN7 on Thursday afternoon after Malema banned Gupta-owned media such as ANN7 and The New Age from attending the party’s events.
"Gupta must leave the country. We're tired about talking about [the] Guptas. We're going to take practical action," Malema told reporters at a press conference in Johannesburg.
"Gupta media must no longer come to EFF events. We don't want to see The New Age and ANN7," said Malema.
The South African National Editor’s Forum (Sanef) has also expressed concern, saying it was unacceptable for any political party to intimidate reporters.
Williams said Malema’s statements were unfortunate.
"For us as a news organisation, the safety of our reporters, cameramen and photographers is paramount and if there is any threat or danger in physical harm, we will not cover the event."
He said the organisation did not believe in lives being lost in the line of duty.
"We would not cover the event if there is any danger to the safety of our reporters."
Williams said Malema had a right to freedom of speech.
"I suppose our democracy can be fairly tolerant of what people say in the political environment, but you need to be careful and it is up to the voters in South Africa to look at that kind of language.
"They need to ask themselves if that is the kind of democracy that they want to consolidate and grow... they need to make their own decisions about whether [that is the party they want to support], a party that comes with that kind of demagoguery..."
He said Malema should reconsider his comments.
"If he wants to be a future leader in this country, he must abide by the Constitution," Williams said.
The South African National Civic Organisation lashed out at the EFF’s threats.
"We call on Sanef and all community media to respond to this threat with a solidarity news blackout and boycott of EFF events until the vile threat that undermines freedom of the press is withdrawn," said Sanco national spokesperson Jabu Mahlangu.
Mahlangu said the Independent Electoral Commission should investigate whether the EFF's "political thuggery posture and bullying tactics" did not violate the electoral code.