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S/African editors mark “Black Wednesday”, condemn attacks on journalists

Attacks on journalists are becoming commonplace in South Africa as evidenced by reports that two eNCA journalists were robbed at Khayelitsha Township in Cape Town, the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) said on Wednesday.Sanef said this on “Black Wednesday”, the day 44 years ago when the apartheid government cracked down on independent media by shutting down the World newspaper and its sister paper the Weekend World – along with numerous black political organisations — on 19 October in 1977.

Percy Qoboza was the editor of both publications.

Sanef appealed to the public to report  attacks on journalists to the security authorities, saying it was concerning that nothing has changed in the country since the days of apartheid when it comes to the maltreatment of journalists.

The editors’ forum marked “Black Wednesday” by appealing to community leaders and ordinary people to report the perpetrators to the police. 

Journalists also faced cyber-bullying and severe attacks on social media, Sanef said.

While South Africa has gained freedom and liberation since the end of the apartheid regime, many forms of oppression still lingered in society today, the editors said.

That is according to acclaimed activist and author of “The New Apartheid”, Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, who delivered the virtual 11th annual Percy Qoboza Memorial Lecture as part of the “Black Wednesday” activities.

Mpofu-Walsh said apartheid still clouded South Africans, and advised them “not to celebrate changes prematurely, and to recognise persistent injustices around this.” 

She added: “Though much has changed since 1977, many of the forms of oppression that were designed during apartheid have lingered on”.

According to the author, “it’s no use telling us that we have the vote when all around us you see destitution, racialised poverty, gender inequality, and various legacies of apartheid.”

“Until we are aggressive in tackling injustices, they (apartheid hangovers) will continue to wreak havoc on the dreams and hopes that we built through the mind, voices, and thoughts of the brave journalists that suffered oppression on this day 44 years ago,” Mpofu-Walsh said.

This year’s Black Wednesday theme is “The role of the media in the digital age. How far will it go in serving as the voice of the dispossessed and as a channel of change and real democracy?”

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