Sanef blasts prince's 'death threat'

2010-07-29 23:10

Cape Town - The SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) on Thursday threatened to report an alleged death threat against journalists made by a Swazi prince to international bodies.

It was shocked by the "death threat" issued by a Swazi prince who reportedly threatened that journalists who "write bad things about the country will die".

This was directed at journalists who had been critical of the conduct of the country's leadership, Sanef said in a statement.

The threat was reportedly made by Prince Mahlaba - brother of Swaziland's absolute ruler King Mswati III --during a July 21 public forum called the Smart Partnership National Dialogue in Manzini.

Mahlaba was quoted as saying: "I want to warn the media to bury things that have the potential of undermining the country rather than publish all and everything even when such reports are harmful to the country's international image.

"Journalists who continue to write bad things about the country will die," he said.

Sanef said Mahlaba also accused the media of peddling lies, saying: "It's a fact that journalists earn their living by writing lies and if they do not write the lies then their source of livelihood is threatened and this is fact and beyond debate."

Mahlaba's accusations against journalists and about how they operated were outrageous and contemptuously rejected, but the threat to kill journalists who wrote critically about the governance and leadership of the country was extremely menacing, designed to intimidate journalists and their publications.

It could not be tolerated.

Sanef called on Swaziland's king and government to repudiate the prince's view and, in the absence of such an unequivocal statement, would report the threat to the Southern African Development Community, the African Union, and the United Nations.

Swaziland was a member of all three bodies, which put forward strong codes relating to the treatment of the media and media freedom for member countries to follow.