Ruth First colloquim addresses issue of media freedom

From left to right: Dr Last Moyo, Ferial Haffejee, Essop Pahad and Anton Harber.      Pic: Dinesh Balliah

ONE OF the main messages that emerged from the third session of the Ruth First memorial colloquim today was not to generalise when it comes to discussions about the media in South Africa.

Prof Anton Harber of the Wits School of Journalism said people should be hesitant about making generalisations about South African journalists being obsessed with the ANC-led government.

Harber said it was clear that the print media was directing investigative efforts at corrupt politicians, instead of just the government as some people have implied. “There will always be massive attention on the state.”

Harber went on to talk about the importance of independence. He said he believes that every journalist should declare all their interests and beliefs in the name of transparency.

Harber said: “I’ve argued at a number of forums that journalists should embrace that form of transparency.”

Dr Essop Pahad, along with Ferial Haffejee, editor of the City Press, joined Harber on a panel chaired by Dr Last Moyo.

Ferial Haffejee listens to audience remarks during the Ruth First memorial colloquim. Pic: Dinesh Balliah.

Pahad emphasised that never before has the ANC-led government been so factionalised. He warned the media to be careful about these factions and to ensure that they themselves did not become a faction supporting one or other group within the ANC.

Pahad felt that problems with the media’s reporting on the government stemmed from the juniorisation of the newsroom.  “I think this issue of the juniorisation of our newsrooms needs to be addressed, and addressed very seriously. I do believe that the media needs to go back to some of its basics.

“We do require that our journalists spend more time in the newsroom. They get hired by the government or go where the money is,” said Pahad.

Pahad also said the media needs to be much more critical in dealing with issues such as the way international bodies such as the EU and the USA have interfered in countries such as Libya and Syria.

He pointed to his observation that there was not a single journalist that questioned Hillary Clinton about the USA’s the right and authority to demand regime change in Syria on her recent visit to South Africa. “Why is it that our commentators uncritically report on the so-called Free Syria Movement.”

Dr Last Moyo, of the Wits Media Studies Department, also raised the issue of the training of journalists. “A journalist staying in Sandton, working for the Mail and Guardian in Rosebank, driving past Alexandra or Diepsloot sees no story. The question is how to train them to see a story.”

DA lays charges against Cosatu

Published in the 14th Edition of the Vuvuzela, page 3

By Lisa Golden and Jay Caboz


AFTER the violent clash between the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Cosatu in Braamfontein on Tuesday, the DA has laid an official charge of intimidation, inciting violence, and holding an illegal gathering against Cosatu at the Hillbrow police station.

Both sides have ­­accused each other of starting the violence by throwing rocks and stones after meeting on Jorissen Street. Several protesters and journalists were injured, including a Wits student, Dikeledi Selowa.

The march to  Cosatu House was to hand over a memorandum in support of youth wage subsidies, a proposal, that according to the DA would create 420 000 jobs for youths.

Cosatu had warned the DA against marching for the subsidy, as they directly oppose it and likened it to labour brokering which will encourage exploitation of workers.

Since the clash, a hailstorm of ‘he-said she-said’ comments flared across various media platforms.

DA leader Helen Zille took to Twitter to vehemently deny that DA supporters were involved in the violence, saying, “I was standing on a truck with a good 360 deg. view. I saw two rolled newspaper pages thrown by DA but no rocks or stones.”

DA leadership urged their supporters not retaliate to the Cosatu aggression, and started a chant of “We are peaceful”.

However, Star journalist Ihsaan Haffejee was quick to point out that he had taken photographs of marchers in DA shirts throwing rocks and other projectiles. Vuvuzela has similar photographs.

Patrick Craven, spokesperson for Cosatu said in a statement “COSATU, as it always does, condemns these acts of violence unreservedly, but stresses that the vast majority of its members conducted themselves with exemplary discipline and restraint, despite the provocative nature of the demands being made by the DA.”

DA Gauteng leader John Moodey accused the metro police at the march of bias. Supporters continually called out to the police to arrest Cosatu supporters who were “openly throwing rocks” in their direction.

One Cosatu supporter in an ANC Youth League t-shirt brandished a stun-gun and managed to stun some DA supporters. No attempt was made by the police to restrain or arrest him.

The police have come under further criticism, because of their initially weak presence and their inability to control the violence on both sides.

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DA Youth Wage Subsidy march turns violent

Witsie hit with a brick during DA march

DA Youth Wage Subsidy march turns violent

A DA supporter is carried away by paramedics on Bertha Street Photo: Jan Bornman

Photographs and story by: Jan Willem Bornman, Lisa Golden and Jay Caboz

Protesters and journalists were tear-gassed by police after Democratic Alliance (DA) and Cosatu supporters clashed in Braamfontein today over proposed youth wage subsidies.

The march turned violent after blue-shirted members of the DA and red-shirted Cosatu supporters met on Jorissen Street. The Johannesburg Metro Police made a human chain to keep the two groups separated as they shouted insults at each other. This did not stop supporters from both sides throwing rocks, bottles, bricks and placards at each other across the police chain.

DA leaders were seen at the front of the march Photo: Lisa Golden

Fighting also broke out on Stiemens Street after police used tear gas to disperse the crowd. A 30-minute stand-off ensued while the DA leadership urged their supporters to maintain a non-violent stance, shouting “we want peace”, amid renditions of the national anthem.

DA members chanted "We are peaceful" when confrontations began Photo: Lisa Golden

One of the first protesters hit by a rock Photo: Jan Bornman

Rocks and bricks were hurled from both sides injuring protestors and journalists alike, among them Nickolaus Bauer from the Mail and Guardian, who was photographed with a bloodied face. A number of injuries have been reported in the media.

Journalist Nickolaus Bauer was injured in the clash Photo: Jan Bornman

DA national leader Helen Zille, parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, youth leader Makashule Gana and national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane led the march which was in support of the implementation of youth wage subsidies; a proposal rejected by Cosatu.

Competing lines of Cosatu and DA members, in red and blue respectively, are surrounded by media and police Photo: Lisa Golden

Mazibuko and Zille addressed the crowds calling for Cosatu to “join the DA” and saying “that they were stealing jobs from the youth.”

The two groups clashed repeatedly on several Braamfontein streets with the police, who appeared largely disorganised, responding with tear gas and water cannons.

Police used water cannons to disperse the crowds Photo: Jay Caboz


Windows of a BMW in Braamfontein were broken by protesters Photo: Jan Bornman


DA and Cosatu members arguing Photo: Jay Caboz

The police struggled to contain the situation as tensions increased Photo: Jay Caboz

A tear gas cansiter lies on the ground close to Cosatu members Photo: Jay Caboz

For more photographs go to Jay’s blog, Lisa’s blog and Jan’s blog