'Supporter of Zuma slapped, strangled me' - SABC journalist as Nkandla crowd targets media

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  • SABC journalist strangled and slapped by former president Jacob Zuma's supporters in Nkandla.
  • Acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane expresses concern about Nkandla gathering. 
  • Sanef outraged by attack on journalists at Nkandla. 

Journalists stationed outside former president Jacob Zuma's home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, have allegedly been targeted by his followers.

Gatherings that flout the Disaster Management Act have been ongoing over the weekend in Nkandla.

Zuma's followers gathered to support him after the Constitutional Court ruled that he must serve 15 months in prison for not appearing before the State Capture Inquiry. 

jacob zuma, nkandla
Supporters march in the street outside former South African president Jacob Zuma’s rural home in Nkandla.
Supporters gesture as they gather in front of form
Supporters gesture as they gather in front of former president Jacob Zuma's Nkandla home.

The gatherings raised the ire of acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, who, in a tweet, said she was worried about the increase in Covid-19 cases that would follow the gathering.

Kubayi-Ngubane said after protests in Johannesburg and Pretoria previously, cases shot up. 

Amid the singing and dancing by Zuma's supporters, journalists were targeted. 

SABC political journalist Samkele Maseko was interrupted by an uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans' Association member during a live broadcast. In the video, Maseko tells the man that he is not a real soldier. "This is not a banana republic." 

On Sunday, Maseko said he was slapped and strangled. "A supporter of former president Jacob Zuma slapped and strangled me. I was accused of being a sell-out and trying to destroy ANC leaders."

Maseko said he had no intention of opening a case against the assailant. "I just want this over and done with." 

He said the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) chairperson Sbu Ngalwa witnessed the attack and had been a great support for journalists working in Nkandla.

Ngalwa said: 

I pulled him out as he was being attacked, strangled and slapped by one of the supporters. Maseko appears to be one of the key journalists being targeted by the Zuma supporters. Video footage from the previous day shows a supporter pushing him away and asking him to leave Nkandla.

Sanef said it was outraged by the attacks on journalists.

"Since Friday, journalists have come under severe attacks while waiting for law enforcement agencies to execute a Constitutional Court ruling. Apart from supporters swearing and hurling verbal taunts at journalists, Edward Zuma also threatened to burn one of the media vehicles parked outside his father’s house.

Former president Jacob Zuma addresses crowds at Nk
Former president Jacob Zuma addresses crowds at Nkandla

"We remind all supporters and the Zuma family and other former ANC leaders who also pitched up to support the former president, that journalists have a right to cover the events. They were not trespassing, nor did they breach any privacy or court regulations." 

Phathiswa Magopeni, SABC's group executive of news and current affairs, said: 

We are extremely concerned about the ongoing bullying, intimidation and harassment of our journalists. Such conduct erodes media freedom, undermines the public's right to know, and has no place in our democracy. We urge the public to allow journalists a safe space to practice their craft without hindrance and use designated complaints agencies to raise any concerns of unfair coverage.

National police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure had enhanced the operational capacity in KwaZulu-Natal in response to gatherings at Nkandla. 

"During the deployment, SAPS commanders and members on the ground have been provided clear and concise directives that responses to any and all situations must be informed by proper analysis. To this end, every situation will be assessed and dealt with on its own merit."  

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