The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) has expressed its disappointment after it lost its case against the EFF in the Equality Court, sitting in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.
On Thursday morning, the Equality Court ruled against Sanef and five journalists in an application to interdict the EFF from intimidating, harassing, and assaulting journalists.
The five journalists are News24 editor Adriaan Basson, Daily Maverick journalist Pauli van Wyk, Tiso Blackstar associate editor Ranjeni Munusamy, Eyewitness News senior journalist Barry Bateman, and Vrye Weekblad editor Max du Preez.
The court heard arguments from both parties over two days.
“Sanef is disappointed that the ruling was not in our favour, but maintain we were fully justified to have approached the courts after numerous instances of threats and intimidation were issued by the EFF against journalists,” the forum said.
It said it would study the contents of the judgment before deciding on the way forward.
“We also wish to emphasise that the recourse to the courts was a last resort after efforts to meet the EFF failed.”
The forum said it would continue its attempts to engage with the EFF and all other political parties on “mutually acceptable rules of engagement”.
“We recently hosted a symposium on this topic. The EFF was invited but didn’t attend the event.”
The EFF welcomed the ruling, saying the applicants sought to portray the party as one that violated media freedom and journalists’ rights to dignity and freedom of speech.
“The Equality Court correctly dismissed them,” the party said.
“We must, therefore, reiterate that journalists who take a side, using journalism as a platform to pursue the propaganda interests of politicians, must never be regarded as journalists.”
The party also accused Sanef and the journalists of making the EFF their “personal project, seeking to discredit it, whilst promoting [President Cyril] Ramaphosa and [Public Enterprises Minister Pravin] Gordhan”.
In November 2018, Malema identified specific journalists he accused of protecting Gordhan, who was testifying at the state capture inquiry at the time.
Malema also accused the media of ignoring the EFF’s allegations that Gordhan’s daughter was in business with the state, News24 reported.
At the time, Malema said: “These crooks, who are calling themselves journalists, are sitting with those questions they have never asked Pravin.”