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Media Freedom & Right to Know news

Sanef condemns alleged attempt to harass, intimidate editor

3 Dec 2013 07:08
The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) has expressed its concern at an alleged attempt to harass and intimidate a community newspaper editor.
In its statement, the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) says it "is deeply concerned at the manner in which Andile Nomabhunga, the editor of The Informer, a community newspaper in the Alfred Nzo District of the Eastern Cape (Matatiele and Umzimvubu municipalities), has been charged by the police with trespassing at the home of a municipal manager Nontsikelelo Matubatuba. This is despite having interviewed her in the home before publishing a story about her alleged abuse of the municipal budget.

Sanef says the story claimed that Matubatuba had used funds from the municipal budget allocated for music talent development to build a music studio in her home. Sanef says that before publishing the story, Nomabhunga visited the house to verify the allegations. "He was invited into the home by people there and took pictures of a student receiving lessons in the studio. He also conducted a lengthy interview with Matubatuba in the home. At no stage was there any suggestion that he was trespassing."

Sanef strongly protests at what it construes as an attempt to interfere with the freedom of expression rights of the paper. (Image extracted from the Sanef website
Sanef says, however, that "six days after publication of the story police arrested Nomabhunga in his office on a charge of trespass, which they told him had been laid by Matubatuba's husband, a lawyer. He was released on his own recognisance and was told to appear in court on Tuesday, 3 December."

Sanef says it is concerned that the police acted on a complaint "which has no substance and appears to be an attempt to harass and intimidate Nomabhunga for publishing the story which clearly contained important information in the public interest.

"Sanef strongly protests at what it construes as an attempt to interfere with the freedom of expression rights of the paper."
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