Statement by the National Press Club on the manhandling of members of the media by members of the Economic Freedom Fighters

The National Press Club Press condemns in the strongest possible terms the manhandling of members of the media by members of the Economic Freedom Fighters in Pretoria yesterday.

The incident happened on Wednesday when a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters apparently tripped over the chain fencing on Church Square, hit his head and died on the scene. The organisation was contending the Independent Electoral Commission’s R600 000 deposit requirement for political parties to participate in the election, hence the presence of members outside the Palace of Justice.

Members of the media on the scene were, in a volatile manner, pushed away and threatened that their cameras would be confiscated and broken. Some were even abused with death threats.

“The National Press Club condemns these actions – in a country where the fight for media freedom was long and arduous. This very freedom makes it possible for the Economic Freedom Fighters to communicate its policies to the broader community, including it contending the Independent Electoral Commission’s deposit requirement for political parties to participate in the election.

“Media freedom allows the media fraternity to do its work within acceptable journalistic principles. The club is confident that members of the media on the scene handled the situation with empathy, showing respect for a person that has died.

“This incident does not auger well for future media relations with the Economic Freedom Fighters – how can you manhandle in this manner the very people you depend on to communicate your message to the broader population? It is also worrying that when the organisation’s leader, Julius Malema – a previous Newsmaker of the Year of the National Press Club – came out of court and embraced his members for not allowing journalists to the scene.”

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