South Africa

In South Africa, free press legacy fades

Nelson Mandela championed a free press as "the lifeblood of democracy." But that legacy is fading with the Pretoria High Court ruling in December that criminal defamation is constitutional. Police force photographers on three separate occasions to delete images of law enforcement agents. In summing up the increasingly restrictive environment for South Africa's press, International Press Freedom Award winner Ferial Haffajee writes "As Africa rises, her journalists should not be seen as enemies of the state."

Watch: Ferial Haffajee's acceptance speech
(AFP/Anesh Debiky)

Reports   |   Bangladesh, Denmark, Ecuador, France, India, Iran, Malaysia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Syria, USA, Venezuela

Drawing the line: Cartoonists under threat

On January 7, two gunmen burst into the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing eight journalists and bringing into focus the risks cartoonists face. But with the ability of their work to transcend borders and languages, and to simplify complex political situations, the threats faced by cartoonists around the world—who are being imprisoned, forced into hiding, threatened with legal action or killed—far exceed Islamic extremism. A Committee to Protect Journalists special report by Shawn W. Crispin

Attacks on the Press   |   South Africa, Swaziland

Outdated secrecy laws stifle the press in South Africa

A woman from the Right2Know campaign protests with her child against the State Information Bill, which would enable the prosecution of whistleblowers, public advocates, and journalists who reveal corruption, in Cape Town on April 25, 2013. (AP/Schalk van Zuydam)

Nelson Mandela regularly harangued the media once he'd been freed after 27 years of imprisonment by South Africa's apartheid government. He would call individual journalists when he liked or disliked something they had written or when he wanted to advance a political lobby.

Attacks on the Press   |   China, Cuba, Eritrea, Hungary, Iran, Poland, South Africa, Sudan, Syria, Vietnam

Journalists overcome obstacles through crowdfunding and determination

The rubble of a school bombed by the Sudanese government in 2012. To set up a news agency to cover the conflict, humanitarian worker Ryan Boyette used crowdfunding. (AP/Ryan Boyette)

During South Africa's Boer War, at the turn of the 20th century, a determined news organization relocated reporters, copy editors, and printing presses to the front line to ensure accurate reporting. In the Warsaw Ghetto, during World War II, a literal underground press, established to counter Nazi propaganda, required the nightly movement of cumbersome printing equipment to evade capture.

Blog   |   South Africa

South African police repeatedly force journalists to delete photos

These South African plainclothes police ordered the photojournalist to delete their picture. (Jan Gerber/Media24)

South Africa is synonymous with crime in the eyes of many--as evidenced by the recent mugging of a TV crew live on camera--but for the press, a more sinister threat to freedom lies in the growing number of cases where it is the police, in flagrant denial of their orders, who intimidate and threaten journalists, forcing them to delete photographs of police on the job.

Blog   |   China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Kenya, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Turkey

After Charlie Hebdo attack, vigils, protests and publishing bans

Protests against the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo were held in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Middle East and parts of Africa over the weekend, as crowds demonstrated against the magazine's portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad, according to news reports.

Statements   |   South Africa

South African court rules that criminal defamation is in line with constitution

Cape Town, South Africa, December 5, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the decision by the Pretoria High Court in South Africa to uphold journalist Cecil Motsepe's appeal against a conviction of criminal defamation, but disapproves of the court's ruling that the crime of defamation for journalists falls in line with South Africa's constitution. Motsepe, a reporter for the daily newspaper Sowetan, was convicted in June 2013 and sentenced to a fine or a suspended 10-month prison term in connection with a 2009 story.

Press Releases   |   Iran, Mexico, Myanmar, Russia, South Africa, USA

2014 International Press Freedom Awards

Honoring courage and perseverance

Awardees from Burma, Iran, Russia, and South Africa

New York, September 30, 2014--Four journalists from Burma, Iran, Russia, and South Africa will be honored with the Committee to Protect Journalists' 2014 International Press Freedom Awards, an annual recognition of courageous reporting. These journalists have faced imprisonment, violence, and censorship.

September 30, 2014 1:22 PM ET

Letters   |   South Africa

CPJ urges respect for media freedom in South Africa

Dear Hlaudi Motsoeneng: The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, is writing to express its concern at recent anti-press statements you made at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

Blog   |   South Africa

South Africa's new communications ministry causes concern

South African President Jacob Zuma is sworn in for a second term in Pretoria, South Africa, on May 24. (AP/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Freedom of expression advocates in South Africa are concerned that the new Ministry of Communications, announced by President Jacob Zuma when he unveiled his cabinet on May 25, will compromise the independence of the public broadcaster and serve as a propaganda office.

Blog   |   South Africa

SABC betrays South Africa's young democracy

Supporters of President Jacob Zuma's ruling ANC party cheer at their final election rally in Soweto, May 4. South Africans go to the polls on Wednesday. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

This week, South Africans go to the polls for their fifth democratic elections since 1994, but despite constitutional guarantees of media freedom, the vast majority of South Africans who vote will do so informed only by the positive news and information carried by a public broadcaster widely criticized for its partiality to the ruling party.

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