PEN SA Statement on the EFF’s intimidation of Karima Brown

07 Mar 2019
PEN SA Statement on the EFF’s intimidation of Karima Brown

PEN SA strongly condemns EFF leader Julius Malema’s publication of the private cellphone number of Talk Radio 702 Presenter Karima Brown on Twitter.

Mr Malema’s action has led to a barrage of intimidation of Ms Brown by EFF supporters, including threats of rape and bodily harm.

Mr Malema posted the information to Twitter on Tuesday, 5 March after Ms Brown accidentally sent notes about his latest media release to the EFF media WhatsApp group instead of to her radio show’s producer.

In her message, Ms Brown raises a question about ‘elders’ mentioned in the EFF press release, whether they are all male and how they were chosen. Her message reads: “Keep an eye out for this. Who are these elders. Are they all male and how are they chosen. Keep watching brief.”

Mr Malema and the EFF leadership interpreted this message as an attempt to spy on the organisation.

On the eve of South Africa’s general elections – set to take place on 8 May 2019 – Malema’s behavior is in direct contravention of Section 9 of the Electoral Code of Conduct (contained in schedule 2 of electoral act).

It states:

Prohibited conduct

  1. (1) No registered party or candidate may—
    (a) use language or act in a way that may provoke—

 (i)  violence during an election; or

(ii)  the intimidation of candidates, members of parties, representatives or

supporters of parties or candidates, or voters;

(b) publish false or defamatory allegations in connection with an election in respect of—

(i)  a party, its candidates, representatives or members; or

(ii)  a candidate or that candidate’s representatives;

PEN SA laments the grave damage already done; Karima Brown’s privacy has been invaded, her safety compromised and her freedom to perform her job as an investigative journalist has been hampered.

Along with organisations such as SANEF and PEN Afrikaans, we call on Mr Malema to apologise for his actions and to address his followers immediately regarding any and all threats of violence and rape on Ms Brown’s person. As a prominent political leader, Mr Malema has a particular responsibility to condemn any such utterance. South African sexual violence rates are among the highest in the world. The threat of rape aganist a woman journalist is an act of violent misogyny deployed to silence. It is an attempt to curb freedom of speech and it will not be tolerated.


Image: Radio 702