The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has put its hand up to assist community radio stations in the wake of ongoing looting and rioting in parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in recent days.
The association released a statement to express how it is deeply saddened by reports of violence and damage to the country’s broadcasting and telecommunications infrastructure.
This includes the destruction and vandalism of community radio stations and network towers.
The NAB also stated that the association’s members are assisting community radio stations where possible.
“Broadcasting plays a crucial role in bringing news and information to citizens and communities, particularly in times of crisis and emergencies,” explained the NAB.
“Access to the media is pivotal to assisting citizens to safeguard their safety, health and livelihoods. Community radio stations are a vital communication channel in South Africa’s three-tier broadcasting system.”
The National Association of Broadcasters reminded the public that the projects affected by the looting are non-profit organisations, owned and managed by the communities themselves.
“Community radio stations serve their local communities, regardless of race, gender, disability or economic class, and they often operate on shoestring budgets.”
As such, they are heavily dependent on donor funding for survival.
“The impact of such destruction will be very challenging, if not impossible to overcome,” said NAB Executive Director Nadia Bulbulia.
“We extend our gratitude to all those who are working tirelessly to restore peace and stability back into our communities,” concluded Bulbulia.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Wednesday called on South African authorities to thoroughly investigate the attacks on journalists and community radio stations.
According to CPJ, which promotes press freedom worldwide, at least four community radio stations were attacked and looted since social unrest broke out in the provinces following protests over the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma.
The radio stations are Alex FM in Alexandra, Johannesburg, Mams Radio in Mamelodi, northeast of Pretoria, West Side FM in Kagiso in the West Rand, and Intokozo FM in Durban.
The South African National Editor’s Forum (Sanef) also encouraged the stations that suffered damage to open criminal cases, which the organisation hopes will result in successful prosecutions.