Safrea approaches SAHRC over journalists' licences

2014-07-30 21:42

Johannesburg - The SA Freelancers' Association (Safrea) will approach the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) regarding a proposal to "license" journalists, the organisation said on Wednesday.

Safrea chairperson Clive Lotter said the statements made by SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng in this regard were "an assault on South African democracy".

The Safrea would immediately lay a complaint with the SAHRC should such a proposal ever become law.

Lotter said such a policy would limit the public's access to information and right to free expression.

"The right to freedom of expression includes freedom of the press and other media. That right is enshrined in the South African Bill of Rights in Chapter Two of the SA Constitution," he said.

Motsoeneng said recently he would make a formal submission to Communications Minister Faith Muthambi that journalists have "a licence to practice".

He said there must be consequences for journalists "who mess up".

Lotter said licensing would erode journalists' right to report the news without fear or favour, particularly in view of Motsoeneng's stated preference for "good news" stories at the SABC.

Lotter said existing media outlets were well positioned to determine whether journalists working for them were acting professionally.

Lotter added that licensing would create a small elite of journalists who alone would be deemed worthy of reporting on South African society.

"In reality, we each have the right to write, report and express opinion on our political and social situation. We encourage Mr Motsoeneng and government to abandon this idea as it is fundamentally unworkable and at odds with the spirit of democratic South Africa," said Lotter.


  • Bernd Kankowski - 2014-07-30 21:57

    It is just a way of trying to control journalists to only write Zuma's so called good story. Once again unqualified people are put into important positions and it didn't take long for them to expose themselves as individuals out of their depth. The rot continues. Journalists should be able to write about anything and expose the corrupt practises of the corrupt ANC government.

      Cecil John - 2014-07-30 22:35

      Please someone approach newscorp / Rupert Murdock , the UN, anyone, this is a violation of human rights.

      Rustic - 2014-07-30 23:23

      Well said Bernd

      Rob Martin - 2014-07-31 07:57

      Stuff the license, accuracy/factual reporting, grammatically correct and no sloppy editing... unlike News24.

  • Skosana Mafika - 2014-07-30 22:01

    Can somebody advise this grade 11 graduate to shut up,

  • King Zamo Ngubane - 2014-07-30 22:30

    Whats wrong with licensing? Journalists who write nonsense in the name of freedom of media must face consequences.

      Cecil John - 2014-07-30 22:33

      Freedom of speech is on the bill of human rights you idiot

      Laphum'ilanga KwaMpangela - 2014-07-30 22:48

      How is the protection of freedom of speech in conflict with licencing Cecil?

      Rustic - 2014-07-30 23:25

      With this government in charge of things, licencing of Journalists amounts to an attack on free speech and access to information for all of us. Only a moron would argue otherwise.

      Neil Ross - 2014-07-31 08:38

      Hey dumb King, you have just made a statement in a public online newspaper. Admittedly a stupid one, but you are free to do so. If this law is passed, you would need a license to comment and express your view. That's what's wrong with licensing.

  • Laphum'ilanga KwaMpangela - 2014-07-30 22:46

    Somebody make me understand how this is a human rights issue. How is it different from, say Doctors, requiring a professional licence and being held to particular standards in order to practice. Journalists inform public discourse and surely they must be held to certain standards. I do not see what is so sinister in that.

      Michael de Villiers - 2014-07-30 22:49

      Freedom of speech. It will simply be used to silence any criticism of the government by denying critical journalists of licenses.

      letsgocuse - 2014-07-31 02:56

      If a government agency is setting the standards that you are advocating and they are the ones deciding who is qualified and who isn't then that's a conflict of interest, especially regarding journalists who are reporting on the government. It's just a way for the government to regulate criticism and free speech.

      michael.tetley.35 - 2014-07-31 07:09

      The laws already in place with regard to slander and libel will suffice. An aggrieved party is free to lay charges accordingly. You cannot compare professions where lives may be at stake due to professional misconduct (doctors, airline pilots etc.) with one that essentially is expressing an opinion. This is merely a thinly disguised assault on the public's right to know what their government is up to.

      John Lonsdale - 2014-07-31 07:34

      Well for a start comments pages will end, unless you have a license. There goes your right to freedom of speech.

      Laphum'ilanga KwaMpangela - 2014-07-31 16:41

      Shouldn't there be a self-regulating industry body then? I get the recourse to the ombudsman and law suites, but surely an industry regulatory body that is run by journalists would end this argument.

  • ryan.donald.77 - 2014-07-30 23:04

    Good job and thank you It seems we are going backwards in South Africa

  • ryan.donald.77 - 2014-07-30 23:10

    Journalism is a voice to the uneducated like yourselves who don't understand this privilege it is a profession unlike medicine and the human anatomy that gives a unbiased generally honest opinion if done right It also allows transparency to you the public from your leaders who cheat lie and steal from you Basically it helps give you a more educated choice

      Laphum'ilanga KwaMpangela - 2014-07-31 00:52

      Perhaps if the people who are passionately against this explained their position without the arrogance and insults, their point would come across clearer ...

      Shawn Berry - 2014-07-31 06:08

      @ Laphum: Our Constitution says freedom of speech to all South Africans. Having to apply for a licence means that only certain people will have the right to voice their opinion therefore they will NOT have freedom of speech. This is contrary to our Constitution therefore ILLEGAL. In extreme cases it could result in these comments which you and I just posted on this thread being regarded as illegal and we could end up being prosecuted for simply voicing our opinion. Social networking sites such as facebook and twitter could end up being banned. DSTV could be shut down and we will all be forced to watch SABC news who will give us nothing but 'good news' stories about the current government. And if you think it can't happen, think again. It has happened in North Korea, Russia, Cuba and to a lesser extent in Zimbabwe. These are only the countries I know of from the top of my head, I'm sure there are many more. There, no insults. No arrogance. Just facts.

      Laphum'ilanga KwaMpangela - 2014-07-31 16:35

      Thank you Shawn. So the issue is placing that power in the hands of governments, who have proven through out history that they can not be trusted. Why doesn't the industry have a regulatory, professional body of its own? Independent of government and run by journalists.

      Shawn Berry - 2014-07-31 19:54

      @ Laphum: no problem. In South Africa there is a body responsible for policing the press. It's called the ombudsman and anyone from the general public Is allowed to lay a complaint against any press agency or journalist.

  • Bento Maepa - 2014-07-31 03:56

    The major conflict between freedom of speech or media and the journalist licensing law is that government will decide what is and what is not good news and on the basis of that journalists licences will be suspended or withdrawn. The eventual scenario is that only pro ANC or government journalists will be the ones left in the media - eg New Age, SABC. No more to hear about Nkandla, Hlaudi Motsoeneng and Thandi Modise stories.

      Bento Maepa - 2014-07-31 04:32

      On the surface things will be made to appear normal - like there is no government interference - behind the scences, though, things will be manipulated in a way that will rid the media fraternity of all/any unsavoury individuals. Point in case - lookup - Igbal Surve, Sekunjalo Media Consortium and Independent Media - and see how Makhudu Sefara was cunningly shoved out of The Star. The same tactic can be easily used in the licensing issue under discussion - which is what Hlaudi Motsoeneng wants to bring about, I think.

      Bento Maepa - 2014-07-31 04:44

      With this broken CONTROL LINK not there, there is no way to muzzle the media. How do you suppress an invasive(intrusive) journalist without a suitable piece of legislation to help you do so. That is exactly what Hlaudi and all others are hankering after.

      Bento Maepa - 2014-07-31 05:12

      As a matter of fact, 98% of the information from independent sources that the ANC propagandists have tried so hard to discredit as hogwash has been proven true, so far. The remaining 2% has really been unauthenticated stuff not lies.The propagandists have not stopped though, they are hard at work trying to brainwash millions of unwary black masses that the media is the problem in this country - hence widespread talks about journalists being liars.

  • Raymond Kok - 2014-07-31 05:50

    we are firmly on our way to zim type of goverment so strap on your seat belts and hold on tight

  • Laurence Weyers - 2014-07-31 07:46

    How can some grade 11 person decide that a journalist with a university degree should need a license. How immature. If the politicians, starting eith Zuma would be more forthcoming, honest and trustworthy, journalists wouldn't have to be " investigative".

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