PEN SA Statement on the Black Land First Protest Against Peter Bruce
30 Jun 2017
This statement was sent to the ANC SG.
PEN SA condemns the Black Land First protest against the Tiso Blackstar editor at large, Peter Bruce.
PEN SA condemns the thuggish placard protest and threats by the so-called Black Land First movement against Tiso Blackstar Editor at Large Peter Bruce outside his Johannesburg home yesterday, 29 June 2017. We note too, with grave concern that the police stood passively while the protesters manhandled and hurled abuse at journalists and editors such as Tim Cohen and Karima Brown who were there to support Bruce. The Black Land First movement is the brainchild of the discredited public relations firm, Bell Pottinger, which has been servicing the Gupta family; it is no coincidence that Bruce has written extensively on the role of the family in state capture.
Journalists play a crucial role as watchdogs of society; they should be allowed to operate freely. That is a right enshrined in our constitution and it is a right that PEN SA defends and upholds. A democratic South Africa was achieved in no small measure through the agency of the media, which disclosed the excesses of apartheid to the public and the world at large. Many journalists laid down their lives, risking everything to see justice prevail.
PEN SA acknowledges the statement the ANC has put out against the protest but unless stern action is taken against BLF, an impression that freedom of the press in this country is not a right to be respected and afforded to journalists and publications, will be conveyed.
As the ruling party, the ANC has a role in stemming the tide of banditry and looting that is currently holding our country in thrall. PEN SA expects the ANC Policy Conference to examine this incident with the seriousness and concern it deserves and to send a strong message that it will not countenance assaults on the media, its journalists and the principle of media freedom.
Executive Vice President
PEN South Africa is affiliated to PEN International – an organisation operating on all six continents that represents writers of the world, defends free expression and encourages literature. A leading voice of literature, PEN brings together poets, novelists, essayists, historians, playwrights, critics, translators, editors, journalists and screenwriters in a common concern for the craft and art of writing and a commitment to freedom of expression through the written word.