Mutsila was covering the Extinction Rebellion protest at the bank's Johannesburg headquarters. The incident involved the deletion of photos and videos from Mutsila's phone and her violent removal from the bank's premises by security personnel.
Standard Bank is the sponsor of the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) Sikuvile Journalism Awards.
The Sanef has stated that it is disturbed by this and other incidents of aggression and violence against journalists while they are doing their job.
“The South African National Editors Forum is disturbed by the recent incidents of aggression and violence against journalists while they are doing their job.
“We note that a charge of assault and unlawful deprivation of property has been filed with the South African Police Service (SAPS) by the journalist in response to this unacceptable behaviour.”
The Sanef statement further says that Mutsila says her attempts to identify herself as a member of the media were ignored.
“Instead, she was subjected to intimidation, and physical aggression, and forcibly removed from the building by at least four male security guards, acting upon the instruction of the bank’s group manager for Internal Protection Services.”
Daily Maverick’s editor in chief, Branko Brkic addresses the incident in an editorial.
In the editorial it says, “At no time did Standard Bank attempt to reach Mutsila or Daily Maverick following the incident. In fact when a Daily Maverick journalist contacted Standard Bank on Tuesday night, spokesperson Ross Linstrom stated: “We note your complaint and request that you share further details, so we can look into these allegations. Standard Bank respects and is a strong supporter of media freedom. In the event that journalists approach us through the proper channels, we are open to engaging with them.
“Mutsila did appeal to the security personnel that she would like to speak to a media person at Standard Bank, but they told her to leave. There was no media liaison who identified themselves at the scene of the protest.”
In the article Daily Maverick further states that “it is wholly unconscionable that Standard Bank, a main sponsor of the Sikuvile Journalism Awards and an apparent supporter of a free press, condones behaviour that censors and violently prevents a journalist from performing her duties.”
It adds that it [the South African daily publication with more than 10 million visitors per month], will be suspending any further participation in the Sikuvile Awards.
Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Awards
The Sanef has been in contact with the leadership of Standard Bank, the sponsors of its Siikuvile Journalism Awards and says will soon be meeting with them to iron out these issues.
“We are encouraged by the willingness of Standard Bank to resolve the matter,” says the Forum.
In another incident, eNCA reporter Hloni Mtimkulu was physically manhandled and pushed out of a South African Post Office branch while she was interviewing government grant beneficiaries on their recent experience with the non-payment of grants.
The post office is a public institution and journalists have a right to do their jobs. The Post Office cannot dictate to beneficiaries who they should be talking to.
Sanef will also write to Minister of Communications Mondli Gungubele, to express its displeasure at the behaviour of the staff at the Post Office.
The behaviour of the staff at the Post Office demonstrated an attitude that has become all too familiar for most South Africans whenever they have to deal with public institutions.
“That is an attitude of rudeness, disrespect, and even violence. Such behaviour is unacceptable and runs contrary to the principles of a free and democratic society. It is a serious infringement of press freedom, which is enshrined in the Constitution,” says the forum.
In Makhanda, Anna Majavu, who works for Grocotts Mail was harassed while covering a case at the local Magistrates’ Court.
Sanef fully supports the Advisory Board for Grocott’s Mail in expressing its condemnation of the attack on Majavu, who encountered threats, harassment, and physical violence.
“We reiterate the point that members of the public, who are unhappy with certain reporting have channels available to them to express their unhappiness.
“The Press Ombudsman is there to adjudicate any dispute between members of the public and a publication - free of charge just as the BCCSA adjudicates complaints relating to broadcasters,” says the Sanef.
Adds the statement by the Sanef, “Sanef believes that the safety of our journalists and media freedom are fundamental democratic principles that all peace-loving South Africans should safeguard.
“Any form of violence, intimidation, or threats against journalists is anathema to the South African constitution.”