Bid to ban media ‘unconstitutional’

An instruction to the media which has the effect of barring journalists from taking photos without permission or reporting on some aspects of the #FeesMustFall protests at Rhodes University, has been roundly condemned by press freedom activists.

The #RUFeesMustFall movement spelt out on social media what it termed its “media rules”. It prohibited journalists from attending or taking photos or filming what it termed “strategy” meetings or “plenary” student sessions.

“Furthermore, no publishing of strategy is allowed or will be tolerated,” it warned.

SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) chair Mahlatse Gallens said this hostility was disappointing and alarming.

Just as students had the right to protests, she said, journalists had the right to be there to record it.

“A journalist has the responsibility to tell all elements of the story. They have a right to be there and to do their job.”

Rhodes’s Professor Harry Dugmore said South Africa had fought hard for its constitutional democracy, which guaranteed a journalist’s absolute right to operate without fear.

“This statement has no legitimacy and is contrary to the constitution.”

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