'EFF threats 'a pattern to intimidate and make work of journalists difficult'

The Equality Court on Monday heard how EFF (Economic freedom Fighters) leader Julius Malema stated publicly that he would not do anything to stop the abuse leveled at journalists by his party's supporters.

The submission was heard in the application brought by the South African Editors' Forum and five journalists in Pretoria on Monday.

Caxton Professor of Journalism at Wits University, Anton Harber speaks to Africa Melane about the case.

There is a concern that unless you cover the EFF the way they want to be covered...threats are made, and that leads to trolling on the internet and social media.

Anton Harber, Caxton Professor of Journalism - Wits

This leads to situations where journalists are really constrained in doing there normal daily work which is undesirable, he says.

He says journalists do need to have thick skins and the problem is not that the EFF is critical. The concern is the threats that are made.

The attacks and threats and abuse of journalists are part of a pattern, he adds, where journalists are just doing their job.

It often leads to threats of violence and we are determined to try and get the courts to try and define what is acceptable political language, political exchanges, and discourse in this country.

Anton Harber, Caxton Professor of Journalism - Wits

Harber describes his own case against the EFF for threats made against himself and his colleague Thandeka Gqubule

We believe it is part of a pattern to intimidate and make difficult the work of journalists.

Anton Harber, Caxton Professor of Journalism - Wits

Once acceptable behaviour is defined, rulings could be made holding parties who break those in contempt of court and ordered to pay damages. But will the EFF listen?

My hope is that eventually, they will...because the ongoing costs will discourage them.

Anton Harber, Caxton Professor of Journalism - Wits

Listen to the interview below:


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