Scores of journalists and members of the public on Friday braved the winter chill to protest against the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) editorial policy of not covering violent protests.
The South African National Editors Forum called on journalists to wear black to picket outside the SABC’s offices in support of journalists who were suspended from their jobs for disagreeing with the editorial policy.
Three senior journalists of the company were last week suspended for “disagreeing with an instruction during a diary meeting not to cover a campaign protest against censorship at the public broadcaster”.
The decision taken in May by the national broadcaster has also been criticized by media rights group, politicians and the public who have described it as self-censorship.
There have since been calls for the SABC’s Chief Operating Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng to resign as he is said to be behind the policy.
But Moetsoeneng told a press conference this weeks that there was no censorship at the SABC.
“People have been saying we are censoring news. I don’t know what is censorship. English. Censorship. Who is censoring who? Because there is no censorship at the SABC”.
On Monday, SABC’s Acting CEO, Jimi Matthews resigned for being “complicit in many decision”.
“For many months I have compromised the values I hold dear” he said in his resignation letter.
He condemned the new editorial policy and apologised for letting people down by “remaining silent when my voice needed to be heard” ending his letter thus “what is happening at the SABC is wrong an I can no longer be part ot it”.
Friday’s protest attracted lots of people who carried placards and banners denouncing censorship.
The crowds marched to the constitutional court to present a petition.
South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance on Tuesday also picketed outside the SABC headquaters in Johannesburg calling on Hlaudi Motsoeneng to step down.