Situation at SABC intolerable - Global news bodies in ‘outraged’ letter to Hlaudi

Hlaudi Motsoeneng. (File, AP)
Hlaudi Motsoeneng. (File, AP)

Cape Town - The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum (WEF) have written a joint letter to SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng demanding the withdrawal of charges against three senior SABC journalists.

The two organisations - who represent 18 000 publications, 15 000 online sites and more than 3 000 companies in more than 120 countries - wrote the letter on Friday to register their "grave concern” over reports of censorship at the public broadcaster.

“We have been particularly outraged by the decision to suspend three senior journalists who had raised concerns over the shift in editorial policy ahead of the August 2016 local government elections, which they felt violated the editorial charter of the public broadcaster,” the letter read.

“At the same time, three additional journalists from the broadcaster are reportedly facing disciplinary action for speaking their minds regarding the erosion of editorial independence at SABC.”

The organisations said they were deeply concerned that recent decisions taken by management at the SABC pose “a serious threat” to media freedom.

They also said there was a worrying trend of editorial interference by senior management at the public broadcaster.

"The push for censorship and the clampdown on journalists simply exercising their duty to report accurately and truthfully is a grave threat to media freedom and cannot be tolerated.

“We join with numerous calls for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of misconduct charges against all the affected SABC journalists. We call on SABC management to respect constitutional provisions for media freedom, journalists’ rights and the public’s right to information.”

The letter was signed by WAN-IFRA president Tomas Brunegård and WEF president Marcelo Rech.

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