CPJ Blog

Press Freedom News and Views

Clifford Derrick

Clifford Derrick is a freelance journalist based in Johannesburg. He has served as CPJ’s Africa correspondent.

Protesters taped their mouths shut to oppose the Protection of Information Bill. (Imke van Heerden)

On Wednesday, just before South African lawmakers were scheduled to debate amendments to the controversial Protection of Information Bill, thousands of protesters marched to the gates of Parliament in Cape Town to oppose the measure, which they called an "apartheid-style secrecy bill." The marchers represented a broad coalition of media, academia, trade unions and civil society groups.

South African journalists protest media restrictions on the nation's annual Day of Media Freedom. (Independent Newspapers Cape)

On October 19, 1977, South Africa's government banned The World newspaper, along with Weekend World, the paper's weekly magazine, and Pro Veritate, a Christian publication. Authorities also detained scores of activists and outlawed 17 anti-apartheid groups during the one-day crackdown, which came to be known as Black Wednesday.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe addresses reporters. (AFP)

For the first time in South Africa's months-long debate over the proposal for a government-run media appeals tribunal, a top official from the African National Congress (ANC) indicated on Friday that the plan could be dropped altogether--under certain conditions.

Dasar (Clifford Derrick)

Violence has cut through the life of 28-year-old journalist Abdulahi Ibrahim Dasar, from his high school days in Kismayo, the third-largest city in Somalia, to his life as a refugee in South Africa. The turbulence of Dasar's life also explains his entry into journalism, a profession that has made him a target of assassination by hard-line Somali militants. 

Back in 2001 in Kismayo, Dasar had ambitious plans to become an entrepreneur, but bloodshed from local clan warfare forced his family to seek refuge in South Africa. In the peaceful suburbs of Cape Town, the familiar sound of bullets was gone at last. Very little knowledge of English and difficulty clicking the South African isiXhosa language spoken by the people of the Western Cape did not stop him from venturing into small-scale kiosk work selling groceries.

Police patrol the World Cup grounds in South Africa. (AFP)As South Africa prepares to host the 2010 World Cup and “soccer fever” reaches its height, press freedom may be left on the benches. Police have recently subpoenaed two journalists working for private station e.tv to reveal their sources in a story about a scheme to commit violent crimes during the big event.
 
On January 16, e.tv interviewed two masked, self-confessed criminals who claimed they planned to steal from tourists in town for the Cup. The police and ruling African National Congress party were not pleased with the bad publicity. Now the police want to use apartheid-era legislation to force News Editor Ben Saidi and reporter Mpho Lakaje to reveal the identity and contact details of the two sources.
Blessing Bayo Ohu and four of her children. (Vanguard)
The killers of Nigerian Editor Bayo Ohu are still a mystery, three weeks after his murder. Now the family of the former Guardian newspaper journalist lives in fear. Ohu was shot dead early on Sunday morning, September 20, by a gang of five armed men and a woman in his apartment in Egbeda, a Lagos suburb in Nigeria. His killers made away with his laptop and cell phone, raising speculation that he was killed for his work as a journalist. Nigerian Police Commissioner Marvel Akpoyido told CPJ that investigations are ongoing.
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