The South African National Editors’ Forum has condemned the raid at author Jacques Pauw’s Riebeek Kasteel home, saying it is a threat to media freedom.
Pauw’s house was raided by the crimes against the state unit of the Hawks.
“The speculation at the moment is that rogue elements in the state security agencies are now fighting back to intimidate and harass journalists to try and close down these kinds of stories,” chairperson of the Sanef subcommittee on media freedom, Sam Mkokeli, said.
“However, Sanef believes these narratives are critical to the life blood of our democracy and to ultimately ensuring the end to the state capture project.”
Sanef intends to meet with new Police Minister Bheki Cele to outline its concerns.
“Sanef believes that we cannot be too vigilant when it comes to issues of media freedom. We have seen a number of alarming media censorship trends developing in South Africa. Sanef’s members and journalists in the broader journalism fraternity, such as the ‘SABC 8’ journalists, have been subject to serious harassment, leading to the death of Suna Venter,” Mkokeli said.
He said a number of editors and senior journalists had also been harassed and threatened by Black First, Land First (BLF) in 2017.
“Sanef notes that not only ‘establishment’ journalists have been threatened, but also journalists in smaller community papers and community radio and television stations. Some of these stories were revealed in an important discussion on World Press Freedom Day held by Sanef and the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism in May 2017.”
‘Climate of fear and intimidation’
The Institute for Race Relations also weighed in, saying that the raid “has a chilling effect on democracy”.
“South Africans may well wonder how it is that ANC politicians identified by investigative journalists as having been complicit in venal and corrupt conduct at their expense have survived despite commitments to clean and accountable governance, while one who had the courage to expose the rot is subjected to the hostile attention of the state’s security apparatus.
“In such conditions, a climate of fear and intimidation undermines society’s confidence in its freedoms and its future. South Africa, of course, is no stranger to the devastating political and economic consequences of such conditions.”
In his book, The President’s Keepers, Pauw revealed the existence of a parallel intelligence network within the State Security Agency.
NB Publishers, who represent Pauw, also criticised the raid.
“We condemn this jackboot move in the strongest of terms and stand by our author and the right of the South African public to know how our law enforcement agencies go about their business. The President’s Keepers brought to light abuse of and corruption at these agencies, and this raid is evidence of how the priorities are perverted.
“They are choosing to shoot the messenger rather than investigating what Jacques Pauw has revealed in his book.”
Pauw confirmed to News24 that three officers from the Hawks had arrived at his home in Riebeek Kasteel, about 80km north-east of Cape Town.
“They left my home at around 18:30 – 19:00 last night [Wednesday] and I won’t be surprised if they came back in 10 days’ time to arrest me. I suppose the NPA has to make a decision on whether to charge me or not,” he said.
He said he expected the raid to take place shortly after he published his book.
“I am not sure what they had hoped to achieve. I asked the police yesterday if they really thought that I would have classified information on my desk.
“It is worrying that some police general would issue a directive for police to come all the way to Cape Town, wasting tax payers’ money, for nothing.”[Source: news24]