Business Leadership South Africa condemns in the strongest terms the harassment and intimidation yesterday of two editors, Peter Bruce and Tim Cohen.
The freedom of the media to report and comment without fear or favour is a fundamental element of any democracy. So too is the right of anyone to disagree with what is written. But the threatening demonstration outside Mr Bruce’s house, allegedly in protest against a column critical of the Gupta family, is completely unacceptable and a threat to our core values.
BLSA finds it deeply concerning that journalists from several media organisations have been the targets for fake news websites, social media smear campaigns and hate speech. Many have had their lives threatened, their cars tampered with and have been subject to illegal surveillance.
As business leaders, we would urge their companies to help protect them and ensure their valuable work is unimpeded.
The incidents followed revelations that the private information of some of BLSA’s members were in the unauthorised possession of third parties and that they, too, had been under surveillance.
This information can only have been obtained by illegal means and clearly should be a matter for urgent police investigation to get to the bottom of these violations of privacy and unwarranted scrutiny.
The encroachment into private lives of South Africans fits squarely into the broader pattern of state capture and corruption we are witnessing and simply serves to underscore the urgent need for the State President to expedite the judicial inquiry recommended by the Public Protector.