The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has condemned the publishing of the home address of EFF leader Julius Malema on Twitter by freelance journalist and author Jacques Pauw.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Sanef said the condemnation followed the publication of an exposé by Eyewitness News on the alleged funding of Malema’s house by a private businessman, Adriano Mazzotti.
The house, which is purportedly occupied by Malema’s wife and children, is situated in a high-security Hyde Park estate and is owned by Mazzotti, who is a director of cigarette-manufacturing company Carnilinx.
Mazzotti has a long-standing friendship with Malema.
In 2014, Mazzotti paid the R200 000 party registration fee for the EFF ahead of the general elections.
City Press also reported that Mazzotti helped Malema settle his tax bill.
On Monday, the EFF also condemned the publication of its leader’s home address, saying the invasion of the privacy of the EFF leadership and their families was an attempt to discredit the party and its objectives, and should not be tolerated.
Sanef’s Media Freedom chair, Mary Papayya, said Sanef supported the right of journalists to investigate the private lives of politicians when there was overriding public interest, as enshrined by the Press Code of South Africa, but that it agreed with the EFF in this instance.
“We agree with the EFF that giving the specific address was not in the public interest, had possible security implications and was contrary to good journalist practice. We have engaged with Pauw and have asked him to remove the details from Twitter, which he has done,” she said.
SANEF asked me to delete the tweet with the address of Julius Malema’s house in Mazzotti’s complex. I thought it was justified to post his address as it is a guarded complex with state-of-the-art security. SANEF says it was wrong to do so. I accept that and deleted the tweet.
— Jacques Pauw (@Jaqqs) December 3, 2018
“At the same time, we note with deep concern the repeated naming and threats levelled against editors and journalists who investigate or report critically on the EFF, and calls for their addresses to be published,” said Papayya.
“We condemn ‘war talk’ against journalists. This too is not in the public interest, is dangerous to editors and journalists and will ultimately have a chilling effect on freedom of expression, freedom of the media and access to information,” she said.
Journalist’s life threatened
In November, the DA opened a criminal case against Malema and EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu, Shivambu’s brother Brian, and Malema’s cousin, Matsobane Phaleng, for alleged criminal offences in relation to the looting of VBS Mutual Bank.
The charges include the acquisition, possession or use of proceeds of unlawful activities, in terms of Section 6 of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, and corruption in terms of Section 3 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.
This followed a report by Daily Maverick which stated that Malema, Shivambu and the party itself had benefitted from the wide-scale looting of VBS Mutual Bank.
The report revealed details of how money allegedly flowed from VBS to a company run by Brian Shivambu, called Sgameka Trading, and from there to another company called Mahuna Investments, owned by Phaleng.
The EFF, however, maintained that the claims were false and that there was no material evidence supporting the allegations.
Sanef encouraged the EFF leadership to engage with the editors directly and to take their complaints to the Press Ombudsman or Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA).
The organisation also noted worrying developments in the Eastern Cape, where a Herald reporter was assaulted at an ANC meeting.
Sanef said a disgruntled local businessman allegedly threatened to shoot a journalist who had written unflattering articles about him.
Sanef said it condemned these actions in the strongest possible terms.