Journalists under attack in violent Johannesburg riots - Sanef

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  • Journalists have come under attack during riots in Gauteng.
  • The violence started in KwaZulu-Natal last week after the arrest of Jacob Zuma.
  • Shops were looted in the Johannesburg inner city.

Journalists came under attack amid incidents of violence in Gauteng on Sunday.

The violence began in KwaZulu-Natal last week, with looting continuing all weekend following the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma. Over the weekend, the riots spread to Gauteng, with looters pillaging shops in the Johannesburg inner city.

Protesters run away after police officers open fire, using rubber bullets, to disperse the crowd in Jeppestown district, Johannesburg, on July 11, 2021.

The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) has strongly condemned the attacks on journalists covering the unrest and looting in Johannesburg.

According to Sanef, an SABC television crew was robbed in Alexandra, while a camera and vehicle belonging to Newzroom Afrika was badly damaged in Hillbrow. Other journalists faced intimidation from perpetrators.

"The two attacks leave a bitter taste in the mouths of journalists and editors, who assigned teams to cover the violent protests across Gauteng this morning," Sanef said in a statement.

Sanef said:

It's utterly disgusting that a threatening protester would tell a reporter 'he will die today', as was said to a News24 journalist. Yet again, we will always call on the organisers of such protests to call for calm, and to respect and accord the media space to do its work. Journalists must be allowed to report and encouraged to report all news incidents, without being intimidated or threatened, while remaining vigilant.

Journalists have been covering the violence since it started in KwaZulu-Natal following the jailing of Zuma at the Estcourt Prison on Wednesday night.

Sanef said incidents of the "intimidation and bullying of journalists" were also reported in KwaZulu-Natal.

South African Police Service (SAPS) officers take position as they try to disperse protesters in Jeppestown district, Johannesburg, on July 11, 2021.

"As an organisation, we will always speak out strongly against misinformation and disinformation, mostly used to paint our media houses in a negative light when it comes to news selection. Our media houses are sending out their journalists daily, at the risk of violent attacks and contracting Covid-19, as they recognise the media's role in our constitutional democracy," Sanef said.

"While everyone is entitled to their views, we call on those perpetuating the inaccurate narrative that the media is ignoring the protests to desist, switch on their TV news, read reputational online and print news platforms, to see how wide the protests have been covered," Sanef added.

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