Julius Malema has been dragged before a South African court by journalists for intimidating and threatening journalists.
The South African National Editors Forum – the body of journalists that took Julius Malema and the EFF to court said that the opposition has for the past been involved in intimidation, harassment, threats and assaults on journalists. The situation has been hindering chilling effect on freedom of expression, access to information and freedom of the media in the country.
In issues like this, one cannot help but question the loyalty of journalists and the journalism profession. Should a reputable journalism body such as the South African National Editors Forum openly attack an opposition?
The body has claimed that Julius Malema and his followers have sent tweets which have targeted journalists in a way that constitute hate speech.
Does this mean that the government in power nor his supporters have never done anything of this such? Do the actions of the editors' forum not clearly state the side of the line which they have chosen to belong?
The case against Malema and the EFF was brought before the Equality Court by the Editors forum and five journalists.
The journalists are News24 editor Adriaan Basson, Pauli van Wyk, Barry Bateman, Ranjeni Munusamy and Max du Preez.
Critics have argued that suing the opposition will allow the government of the day to suppress them further.
Advocate Daniel Berger SC, representing Sanef and the journalists, argued that the applicants had brought the application to protect themselves and their colleagues from the abuse they have been enduring.
The matter comes after Malema's comments on November 2018 outside the state capture commission of inquiry, where Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan was testifying.
Malema accused the media of ignoring allegations made by the EFF that Gordhan's daughter was in business with the state, News24 previously reported.
He further identified specific journalists, who he accused of protecting Gordhan.
Malema said, "these crooks who are calling themselves journalists are sitting with those questions they have never asked Pravin. The deputy president of the EFF came here yesterday and spoke. Instead of repeating those quotes, they asked Pravin: 'Why is the EFF attacking you?'
"I want the EFF leadership from today and the membership to know we are not answering any question(s) from Tiso Blackstar, Daily Maverick, Scorpio, and e.tv. They should not ask us about our wives, about our relatives, about anyone we know, until we ask Pravin these questions in a live interview."
The issue at hand is highly politicized. Malema has been heavily criticized for calling journalists as crooks.
Critics have further indicated that no journalists owe their loyalty to Malema and government of the day.
"They owe their allegiance to the people. Dragging a significant opposition before the courts are not protecting their rights as they claim. Instead, it is taking sides between government and opposition. The actions of the journalists abuse the ethos of the profession that places journalists under oath to be fair, unbiased and put the people first," cited the political social commentator.
What are your thoughts?
Header Image Credit: The South African