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South Africa: SABC Fires Journalists for Protesting Censorship
In response to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) firing seven staff journalists and a freelance writer, who are collectively known as the SABC 8, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“It is deplorable that the SABC fired its own journalists for insisting on covering the news,” said Lynn Fredriksson, director for Southern Africa programs. “The SABC is silencing journalists who protest censorship and advocate for press freedom, while its leadership appears more interested in protecting and serving a privileged few than the public. The SABC should quickly reinstate the journalists and reverse its decision to censor news content.”
Seven SABC journalists and one contracted freelance journalist were fired between July 18-19 for protesting an SABC management decision not to report on violent protests, a directive issued by Chief Operating Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng in May 2016, ahead of violent unrest in Tshwane, the metropolitan area that includes Pretoria, the national capital. Critics of the SABC have likened its behavior to that of the Apartheid-era state broadcaster of the same name, in its use by the government as a propaganda tool.
The eight journalists say they will contest their firing in Labour Court and the Constitutional Court.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.