The Cape Town Press Club condemns threats levelled against journalist Qaanitah Hunter
10 September 2018
The Cape Town Press Club condemns threats levelled against journalist Qaanitah Hunter following the publication in the Sunday Times of a report she co-wrote with Jeff Wicks about a meeting of former president Jacob Zuma and his allies at a Durban hotel last week.
We will not simply stand aside when journalists are personally attacked and threatened, particularly by political leaders who ought to be setting an example.
While the club will not comment on the merits of the story, it does note that various ruling party structures, particularly the ANC Women’s League, immediately condemned the newspaper report, claiming that it was false and that the meeting did not take place. This was despite the publication of photographs and subsequent eyewitness accounts that Zuma and other prominent ANC members were in fact at the hotel as Hunter and Wicks had reported.
A statement issued by Meokgo Matuba, the ANCWL secretary general, accuses both journalists of “peddling lies”. Hunter, in particular, is vilified as “becoming an embodiment of gutter journalism”.
Matuba further declared, “One of the core principles of journalism is truth. Qaanitah and Jeff must also embrace and adhere to ethics of journalism that are based on professional conduct, morality and the truth. The ANCWL will defend the unity and intergrity of the ANC and will not be apologetic in condeming lies by journalists likes Qaanitah and Jeff who are hell bent in peddling false narrative aimed at dividing the ANC.”
Hunter has revealed that she has received threatening messages from the ANCWL secretary general — including a photograph of a firearm.
Asked about the meaning of the photograph, Matuba reportedly claimed that she didn’t know who sent it as she shared the cellphone with many people. That is a wholly inadequate response in our view.
There are a number of proper channels in which to challenge the accuracy of a newspaper report. The ANCWL should be using these rather than going on a tirade that seriously draws into question its commitment to a free press.
Issued by The Cape Town Press Club, 10 September 2018