Image credit: Pixabay
Image credit: Pixabay
As reported by SABC News, Natasha Phiri and Cameraman Sbu Mcedane were accosted in Alexandra by unidentified men who robbed them of camera equipment.
The news was initially shared by the SABC former Presidential Correspondent, Ntebo Mokobo. The incident follows after SABC journalist Maagegetla Mohabe was harassed last week, while on air.
Phiri and Mcedane opened a case with the Alexandra police. Anyone with information pertaining to the case is urged to contact authorities.
The Executive Director of the South African National Editors Forum, Kate Skinner, said the harassment of journalists leading up to the elections is shocking.
“It is a worrying development. We’ve seen a lot of online harassment, and now we’ve seen harassment physically, in the real word. […] It’s so difficult to report on things, uncover the truth and tell local stories if community members don’t support journalists.”
She added that it’s “a trend where community members don’t immediately see journalists as being there to tell their stories”. Skinner said journalists also need trauma counselling and support when covering stories in dangerous areas.
When asked what community leaders could do to sensitise residents in the role that journalists play, Skinner said the SANEF is planning “major communications and campaigns around the importance of the safety of journalists.”
She added that community leaders have an important role to play. Leaders need to realise that their stories won’t be told if journalists are hesitant to visit certain areas.
“Crime levels are very high in particular places. Maybe community members have seen a lot of break-ins, robberies, and have become desensitised to that.”
Skinner was asked if media organisations are doing enough to train journalists on how to protect themselves in similar situations. She said “media organisations don’t necessarily do enough,” and added:
“At SANEF, we ran a whole series of workshop with journalists, specifically for the elections. One of the major things we were looking at, was the safety of journalists.”
SANEF reached out to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) an organisation based in New York for assistance with regards to “specific tools for journalists and editors.”
Skinner concluded that “there is some work that is being done, but definitely, a lot more could be done.”