The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) announced that progress is being made in the Equality Court case it initiated to protect journalists against harassment and abuse

In a statement, SANEF said it lodged a complaint against the EFF in the Equality Court late last year after a barrage of abusive and dangerous threats against journalists. SANEF approached the court in defence of media freedom and to seek journalists’ protection.

In the court papers, SANEF has asked for the following:

– The interdicting of the EFF leadership from intimidating, harassing, threatening and assaulting journalists;

– The interdicting of the EFF leadership from publishing personal information of journalists on public platforms or on social media or by other means;

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– The interdicting the EFF leadership from expressly or tacitly endorsing the intimidation, harassment, threats or assaults by supporters or followers, whether on public platforms or on social media or by other means;

– An order directing the EFF to publicly denounce the harassment and abuse of journalists; and

– An apology from the EFF to the specific journalists listed as complainants in the court papers and an order directing the EFF to publicly acknowledge the constitutionally protected role played by journalists.

After initial delays in the case, SANEF has been informed that Judge Wendy Hughes will be hearing the matter and that the following timeline has been agreed to:

– 12 June: EFF to file their answering papers

– 27 June: Sanef to file replying papers

– 11 July: Pre-trial meeting with Judge Hughes

– 5, 6 and 7 August: Hearing of the matter

“SANEF sees progress as regards this case as critical given the ongoing harassment of journalists.

“In this regard, we note the most recent chilling case of harassment of investigative journalist, Pauli van Wyk, in the wake of her hard-hitting stories on the EFF and VBS [Mutual] Bank. We note a tweet by Julius Malema communicated to his more than 2,4m followers. He didn’t elaborate or name any individuals, but the timing pointed to a veiled threat. He called for his followers to ‘go for the kill’ and to ‘hit hard’.

“As SANEF, we believe that this court case will finally hold the EFF leadership to account in its sustained abuse of journalists – and thus its sustained abuse of our hard-won constitutional principles of freedom of expression, access to information and freedom of the media,” the statement read.