SANEF calls for action against Somizi Mhlongo for insults directed at Sunday World and City Press journalists

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Somizi Mhlongo
Somizi Mhlongo
Photo: Oupa Bopape/Gallo Images
  • SANEF has called for action against Somizi Mhlongo for insults directed at Sunday World acting editor, Kabelo Khumalo, and Julia Madibogo of City Press.
  • Mhlongo did not comment on the journalists' line of questioning, instead, insulting Khumalo and his parents, calling them obscene names and "abused" Madibogo.
  • Mhlongo further took a screengrab of the text conversation with both journalists and posted it on his personal Instagram, exposing the journalists' names and cellphone numbers. 

The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) has released a statement in response to Somizi Mhlongo's insults directed at Sunday World acting editor, Kabelo Khumalo, and Julia Madibogo of City Press.

Madibogo of City Press approached the Idols SA judge for comment on allegations that he was divorcing his husband, Mohale Motaung-Mhlongo.

Khumalo approached Mhlongo for comment following reports that production on Dinner at Somizi's had been put on hold amidst legal proceedings instituted by Hastings Moeng.

In 2020, Mhlongo and broadcaster MultiChoice were issued a summons by Moeng who claimed to have had his intellectual property stolen when Mhlongo launched the popular show.

Moeng claims to have conceived the show's concept back in 2014 when he reached out to Mhlongo via email and outlined a near-identical pitch to the structure it currently employs. He has now sought "reasonable compensation" with 15% interest on the amount decided.

Mhlongo did not comment on the journalists' line of questioning, instead, insulting Khumalo and his parents, calling them obscene names and "abused" Madibogo.

Mhlongo further took a screengrab of the text conversation with both journalists and posted it on his personal Instagram, exposing the journalists' names and cellphone numbers to his 3.7 million Instagram followers. 

"We believe this is irresponsible in the extreme and potentially unlawful conduct. Mhlongo has a massive support base, and a following in excess of almost 4-million on the Instagram social platform and his followers have resorted to intimidation and harassment of journalists on all social media platforms. They have subjected both Madibogo and Khumalo to torrents of insults and threats," said the statement issued by SANEF.

"Some have directly threatened Madibogo and Khumalo's wife with rape while Khumalo received threats to his life. The fans also threatened the safety of the journalists' families. They have tormented them for doing their jobs and asking questions in line with the Press Code that demands of journalists to give a right of reply to everyone they intend to write stories about," the statement continued. 

Although Mhlongo has since deleted the posts from his Instagram account, the journalists continue to be abused - according to the statement. 

"Cyber trolls have amplified the ongoing attacks on women journalists. His actions have aggravated what is already a hostile working environment, especially for women journalists. This is a direct attack on media freedom in the country. Worldwide similar attacks are being meted out on journalists with the intent to silence their voices, especially that of women and the stories they tell."

SANEF calls on Mhlongo to unreservedly apologise to these journalists and the public on all his social platforms for his unbecoming behaviour. 

"He must call on his followers to stop harassing and intimidating them. Further, we call on the journalists to lay charges of intimidation and for MultiChoice to officially distance themselves from Mhlongo's comments. SANEF reiterates its call on the journalism industry to urgently ensure the safety of journalists, especially women reporters, and to note that support is needed to address online attacks," says the statement.

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