WAN-IFRA

A publication of the World Editors Forum

Date

Sun - 21.01.2018


South Africa

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Labelled the "Secrecy Act" by its critics, the controversial Bill seeks to "provide for the protection of certain state information from alteration, loss, destruction or unlawful disclosure" – in other words, it poses an ugly threat to the investigations of whistle blowers and their fundamental right to access and disseminate information of public interest.

Right2Know campaigners, who before the vote, warned on their website that, "if passed the Bill would add to the generalised trend towards secrecy, fear and intimidation that is growing in South Africa today," held a silent vigil in parliament in Cape Town, alongside a picket outside the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg, but to no avail.

The Bill was passed 189 votes to 74 with one abtension, meaning that the matter now lies in the hands of President Jacob Zuma, who has the option to get it passed into law. Significant improvements have already been made to the Bill after consultation by the National Council of Provinces, but according to Lindiwe Mazibuko, parliamentary leader of the Democratic Alliance party, the Bill nevertheless remains "flawed" and "does not pass constitutional muster."

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Author

Emily Moore

Date

2013-04-29 16:20

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South African President Jacob Zuma has withdrawn a four year-old defamation claim against Avusa Media, publisher of the Sunday Times newspaper, over a 2008 depiction by cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro (known by the pen name “Zapiro”) of Zuma dropping his pants as he prepares to rape a female personification of the justice system.

The case was due to be heard in the South Gauteng High Court today. Instead, Zuma announced his decision to drop the claim in a statement on Saturday, citing a desire “to avoid setting a legal precedent that may have the effect of limiting the public exercise of free speech, with the unforeseen consequences this may have on our media, public commentators and citizens.”

Initially, Zuma had claimed damages totaling 5 million rand ($580,000)-- 4 million from Avusa Media for defamation, as well as 1 million from the former editor of the Sunday Times Mondli Makhanya for insulting the President’s dignity. Last week, Zuma’s lawyers reduced the claim to 100,000 rand ($11,500) and an apology. Under the new settlement, the President has dropped all charges, and will pay 50 percent of the defendants’ legal costs.

Author

Emma Knight

Date

2012-10-29 17:51

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UK Prime Minister David Cameron will sit down in the next month to consider his response to the Leveson Inquiry into media standards and must then decide whether to accept its recommendations on media regulation.

When he does so, I wonder if the changes to the South Africa system announced last week will be brought to his attention.

The press in both countries have until now been self-regulated. While the context and circumstances are vastly different, journalistic practices and ethics in both have been under scrutiny and politicians and disaffected publics have been threatening to rein in the media because of a perceived failure of self-regulation.

South Africa’s print media last week announced it would adopt a system of independent co-regulation between the media and the public. A retired judge would head a new press council, equally divided between media and members of the public, eliminating media bias.

In the UK this weekend there was much debate about which way the government would go. Cameron promised no state regulation of the press. However he said he would take heed of Leveson’s recommendations, unless they were bonkers or heavy-handed.

Author

Cherilyn Ireton

Date

2012-10-08 17:49

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South African newspaper the Citizen has admitted that it made a mistake by publishing a manipulated photograph on the front page of its Wednesday edition, after the cover elicited strong reactions from journalists about the ethics of editing news images.

The photograph, supplied by news agency Agence-France Presse (AFP), was taken after a suicide attack killed 12 people, including eight South African aviation workers, in Kabul, Afghanistan on September 18. In the original image, two bodies lie beside the charred skeleton of a minibus that was blown up in the attack. In the version that was published, the bodies have been digitally wiped from the picture.

The Citizen released a statement on Thursday, explaining that during an editorial meeting on Tuesday, the photograph was deemed too graphic to publish in its natural state, and a decision was taken to blur the bodies. Instead, they were “digitally cloned out of the photo,” apparently inadvertantly. “The photo should never have been published in that form,” said the Citizen’s Editor Martin Williams. “We regret this and are taking steps to ensure that it does not happen again,” continued the statement.

Author

Emma Knight

Date

2012-09-21 17:48

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The editor of South Africa’s Mail & Guardian and two of the weekly newspaper's senior journalists are now considered suspects in a criminal investigation in connection with allegations of theft and illegal distribution of information.

Editor-in-Chief Nic Dawes and investigative reporters Sam Sole and Stefaans Brümmer appeared at a police station in Pretoria yesterday for “warning interviews” with the directorate for priority crime investigation (also known as the Hawks) where they were read their rights and given an opportunity to respond to the charges laid against them at the behest of presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj last November. If they are found guilty, the three could potentially face 15-year prison sentences.

The criminal charges stem from an article that the newspaper had been due to publish last November pertaining to Maharaj’s possible involvement with a corrupt arms deal that took place in the mid-1990s, while he was transport minister.

Author

Emma Knight

Date

2012-07-27 15:18

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This is a guest post by Gill Moodie, a South African journalist who covers the media. She blogs at Grubstreet.co.za and writes weekly media columns and stories for Bizcommunity, and Wits University’s Journalism.co.za.

There is a lot of courageous, excellent investigative work going on in African countries.

In South Africa, investigative teams focus on busting political corruption whereas much of the in-depth investigative work going on in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda is about social issues and related problems.

“There’s a tendency to see investigative journalism in South Africa as the journalistic equivalent of a private investigation – getting inside information and getting leaks,” said Derek Luyt of the Public Service Accountability Monitor, who has worked with investigative journalists across the continent.

“There’s also a move towards data journalism [in SA], but we needn’t be so precious about defining investigative journalism and [making it only about] busting corruption. If you take a slightly broader view, then Africa is chock-a-block with brilliant investigative journalism.”

Author

Guest

Date

2012-06-13 11:49

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South Africa’s City Press has removed a controversial likeness of President Jacob Zuma from its website in an effort to restore calm, following a largely unsuccessful boycott over the weekend— called for by the African National Congress (ANC) party— in which copies of the Sunday newspaper were set ablaze and journalists reportedly received death threats.

The ANC party spokesman Jackson Mthembu has allegedly welcomed the withdrawal, but continues to demand an apology from Editor-in-Chief Ferial Haffajee, according an update on City Press' website.

Haffajee announced her decision to pull the image of Brett Murray’s painting “The Spear,” which depicts President Jacob Zuma with exposed genitals, from the publication’s website this morning, and followed up with an elucidatory editorial entitled “The spear is down – out of care and fear.”

Author

Emma Knight

Date

2012-05-28 18:00

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South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party has called for a boycott of the Sunday newspaper City Press, demanding that it remove an image of “The Spear,” a painting by artist Brett Murray depicting President Jacob Zuma in a Lenin pose with exposed genitalia, from its website.

City Press has refused to censor the image. In a May 18 column titled "The spear of the nation stays up," Editor-in-Chief Ferial Haffajee defended the paper’s decision as part of its commitment to the freedom of expression, which is enshrined in South Africa’s constitution in order to protect "art that pushes boundaries" and "journalism that upsets holy cows," she wrote.

"City Press covered an art exhibition, an interesting and remarkable exhibition that marks a renaissance in protest art, which we are tracking...To ask us now, as the ANC has done, to take down an image from our website is to ask us to participate in an act of censorship. As journalists worth our salt, we can’t."

Author

Emma Knight

Date

2012-05-25 13:16

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