South Africa: BBC journalist expelled from press conference

New York, April 9, 2010–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the African National Congress (ANC) party’s condemnation of the expulsion of BBC journalist Jonah Fisher from a press conference on Thursday. ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema referred to Fisher as a “bastard” after the reporter interrupted him.

Malema criticized the Zimbabwean party Movement for Democratic Change for having offices in the wealthy Johannesburg suburb of Sandton and Fisher interjected and reminded Malema that the youth leader lived in Sandton himself. “You are a small boy, you can’t do anything,” Malema countered. “Go out, bastard, go out. You bloody agent.” Fisher then packed his equipment and left, according to wire reports.

The ANC party released a statement today that condemned Malema’s behavior. “The aggressive and insultive behavior to the said journalist that culminated with Mr. Fisher walking out of the youth league press briefing cannot be condoned at all,” the party stated.

“We welcome the ANC party’s decision to condemn this act,” CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes said. “We hope that journalists will be able to cover future press conferences for the ANC without being insulted and expelled.”

Malema is at the center of another controversy for singing a revolutionary song “Shoot the Boer” at recent political rallies. The song has been banned as hate speech in two court rulings, according to local reports. The controversy emerged as a funeral for white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche, who was killed by disgruntled farm workers on Saturday, took place today in the rural northwestern town of Ventersdorp.