The Johannesburg High Court today granted an interdict against Black First Land First preventing them from intimidating journalists. The Court further ordered them to make a public statement within 12 hours that they do not condone these acts.
Commenting on the court action, Primedia CEO Roger Jardine said: “We welcome the court ruling today. There can be no place for this kind of behaviour in a democracy. Journalists must be given the space to practice their craft without the fear of harassment and intimidation by parties who disagree with them.”
Five of the eleven applicants in the court case are Primedia journalists and presenters. Jardine continued: “Katy Katopodis, Eusebius McKaiser, Stephen Grootes, Barry Bateman and Karima Brown are great broadcasters and outstanding professionals. We are very proud to have them as part of the Primedia team. We at Primedia pride ourselves on our independence and we encourage our people to be fearless as they pursue stories and discuss issues.” Jardine said that Primedia supported all journalists who have been harassed and intimidated and that he found the incident outside the home of Peter Bruce shocking and unacceptable.
This court case provided a great test for media freedom, and Primedia is pleased that the court ruling has affirmed the guiding principles of the constitution of freedom of expression. The Company has welcomed the strong stance taken by several government ministers against the intimidation of journalists. The strong support for media freedom that has been expressed by political parties, business and civil society is also very important in the current environment.
Media freedom is not only a concern for media owners and journalists, but an issue that all South Africans should take seriously and promote actively. Jardine concluded: “A strong requirement for a healthy, vibrant and open democracy is a media that is allowed to function in an environment free of fear and intimidation. This case has once again highlighted the role of journalists and editors in society. Primedia will be providing financial assistance to The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) to continue their great work and we call on all South Africans to work pro-actively to support and defend media freedom in South Africa”