Break-in at SABC’s Parliamentary offices ‘stunningly suspicious’‚ says DA

The Democratic Alliance has described a break-in at the SABC’s Parliamentary offices‚ and removal of multiple laptops of senior journalists‚ as “stunningly suspicious”.

“In light of ongoing intimidation of SABC journalists‚ particularly those who spoke out against SABC management during the SABC inquiry‚ we view this latest ‘break-in’ as part of a much bigger‚ coordinated campaign to intimidate and threaten SABC journalists‚” said DA spokeswoman on communications Phumzile Van Damme.

“We encourage the SAPS to investigate this matter urgently. It is appalling that to-date not a single person has been arrested for the death threats and break-ins at homes of the SABC 8‚ including the shooting in the face with an air rifle of one of them.

“Given a history in seizing laptops‚ and involvement in campaigns to intimidate journalists – as was revealed during the SABC inquiry – the DA will request that the Inspector-General of Intelligence‚ Dr Sethlomamaru Dintwe‚ investigate the State Security Agency (SSA) possible involvement in this latest break-in‚ and ongoing intimidation of journalists‚” Van Damme added.

Dintwe‚ agreed on April 5 to the DA’s request that he investigate allegations by SABC journalists and staff that their mobile phones were intercepted and tapped by the SSA.

“We will ask that he add the latest allegations to his ongoing investigation‚” Van Damme said.

Journalists performed a fundamental role in South Africa’s democracy to keep the public fully informed‚ and any attempt by the government to monitor their communications‚ or intimidate their work‚ should be viewed as an attack on press freedom‚ she added.

Van Damme said that DA chief whip John Steenhuisen would also be taking up with the Speaker of Parliament how an office inside the parliament precinct‚ protected by 24 hour SAPS guard‚ could be breached and thieved from.

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