Media freedom one of important cornerstones of SA’s democracy and freedom – government on Black Wednesday

2019-10-19 22:50
Some 1 000 people protest on November 22, 2011 outside the South African Parliament in Cape Town against the Protection of State Information Bill. (Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images)

Some 1 000 people protest on November 22, 2011 outside the South African Parliament in Cape Town against the Protection of State Information Bill. (Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images)

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Media freedom forms part of one of the important cornerstones of South Africa’s democracy and freedom, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said on Saturday.

“Government confirms its commitment to media freedom on this 42nd commemoration of Black Wednesday,” he said.

“We have in the recent past witnessed the crucial role played by the media in exposing corruption and state capture.”

National government in a statement said that on Wednesday 19 October 1977 the apartheid regime “showed its contempt for freedom of expression and media freedom” when it banned The World, Weekend World as well as other publications, and arrested various black consciousness activists.

“Despite these horrendous efforts of the apartheid regime to silence its critics, the people of South Africa defeated the apartheid system and democratically adopted a Constitution that guarantees freedom of expression and media freedom.”

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Friday hosted its Black Wednesday gala dinner in honour of those who fought for the freedom of the press, and those who continue to do so, in Johannesburg.

Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase honoured names such as Percy Qoboza, Joe Thloele, Mathatha Tsedu, Aagrey Klaaste, Juby Mayet, Thenjiwe Mtintso and Ruth First on the anniversary of the day the Nationalist party government attempted to silence the media.

Mthembu said press freedom “comes with huge responsibility”, cautioning the media to “always self-reflect”.

He welcomed Sanef’s decision to institute an independent media inquiry into media credibility and ethics, headed by retired judge Kathy Satchwell.

The forum called for anyone with evidence of journalists acting unethically or illegally to email panel@mediainquiry.co.za for submissions to the inquiry.

- Compiled by Tammy Petersen

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