The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) called for evidence to be brought forward following claims that about 40 journalists were involved in a deliberate smear campaign against struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela during apartheid.
On Wednesday, eNCA aired the documentary ‘Winnie’, in which she claimed there were journalists working under the Stratcom operation to discredit anti-apartheid activists.
Following the documentary, a video went viral on social media, showing the late Madikizela-Mandela saying she believed some of the journalists were “used” against her.
In a statement released on Friday, Sanef said it fully acknowledges the brutality of the apartheid regime and its misinformation campaigns.
“Given this context of lies and propaganda, we believe it is critical that concrete evidence is brought forward to substantiate claims that specific journalists supported the apartheid state’s security establishment.
“In the absence of any such evidence, the circulation of unsubstantiated rumours is irresponsible, dangerous and extremely damaging to media freedom and the media environment as a whole. We believe it puts journalists at serious risk of physical harm and having their credibility unnecessarily questioned,” Sanef said.
“We would like to call for cool heads so that we can have a sober debate about ways to cherish Mama Winnie’s legacy in building a truly democratic nation. That is a nation where conflicts and debates are handled in an open, democratic fashion, without the kind of smear campaigns that were prevalent during the apartheid era.”[source: ENCA]Sanef