SABC and MultiChoice need to act against Somizi

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Media personality Somizi Mhlongo. Picture: File
Media personality Somizi Mhlongo. Picture: File

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Somizi, you are an influencer and you should be leading by example. As a person who many youngsters look up to, what message are you sending to them? asks Timothy Molobi.

Today I want to call out Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung for what he did when he not only published the questions sent to him by journalists, but also publicised their contact numbers for his followers to harass them.

This kind of behaviour needs to be condemned as it is tantamount to media intimidation.

I must add that Somizi is not the first or only one to have done this. It seems to be the new trend, especially from celebrities and officials of political parties. Recently, this bunch has been leaking questions sent to them, trying to “expose” journalists to their followers.

I’m not the one to be bullied especially by media ... azishe ... I’ll make u just as famous.
Somizi Mhlongo

This is wrong and dangerous behaviour as it puts our lives in danger and makes our job difficult.

Last week Somizi was sent media enquiries by City Press and Sunday World regarding stories that journalists were working on. It is our duty to ask questions and to give the other party a chance to give their side of the story.

But instead of responding to a request for comment, Somizi decided to respond by insulting the journalists. Not only that, he posted said questions on his social media platforms and published the contact numbers of the journalists.

“So @city_press has become a tabloid ... ok ... two can play the game ... to stand a chance to win I don’t know what dial the number and let Julia know what it feels like to have yo privacy invaded unprovoked.”

“I’m not the one to be bullied especially by media ... azishe ... I’ll make u just as famous...”

Read: Sanef slams Somizi Mhlongo for insulting Sunday World and City Press journalists, demands apology

What followed was a barrage of calls to the City Press reporter from Somizi’s followers. The followers may not have meant to cause any harm to her, as some just called to say they were told to call before hanging up, but such behaviour should be condemned in its entirety.

Somizi is a public figure who commands millions of followers. You are an influencer and you should be leading by example. As a person who many youngsters look up to, what message are you sending to them? Are you telling them that it is right to insult journalists like this? Remember, monkey see, monkey do. Your followers will learn that this is how one treats the media. Shame on you!

You are sailing in dangerous waters, for if anything happens to these journalists you will be the first suspect after sicking your supporters on them.

Being a public figure is the life you chose and you are always going to be under scrutiny. We will keep asking questions, whether you like or not. You are not going to silence us by using intimidation tactics. If the kitchen is too hot for you then get out.

Such bullying tactics won’t work; they’ll only serve to spur us on to dig more. You are no holy cow, you are not untouchable.

You got away with the Fikile Mbalula issue when you made your private conversation public, when you claimed in a video on social media that Mbalula had told you that President Cyril Ramaphosa would extend the nationwide lockdown. But I think you have crossed the line now and we need to call you to order.

Read: Is it really over for Somizi and Mohale?

We hope your employers – who ironically are media houses, the SABC and MultiChoice – will come out and take a stand to protect journalists’ rights and media freedom.

There are channels to follow when you are not happy with stories written about you, Somizi. You can either approach the office of the Press Ombudsman or the courts – as you always threaten to do.

You are sailing in dangerous waters, for if anything happens to these journalists you will be the first suspect after setting your supporters on them.

You should be the last person to diss journalists, the same people who helped to raise your profile.


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Timothy Molobi 

News Editor

+27 11 713 9001
timothy.molobi@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park
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