Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sanef raises concern as govt tries to gag Beeld

By Nadia Samie
31 May 2007


The South African National Editors Forum has come out in support of a daily newspaper after an attempt by a government department to prevent it from publishing a story.

The Department of Transport has tried to gag the Beeld newspaper, after the paper obtained a report by the Auditor-General about the controversial and problematic licensing system, eNaTIS.

According to Beeld, the paper approached the Transport Department for comment, in line with basic journalistic practices. The department requested a day in which to formulate a response. However, the department then almost immediately launched an urgent application to the Pretoria High Court to stop the paper from making public information from the Auditor General’s report.

Raymond Louw, chairperson of Sanef’s Media Freedom Committee, says that the conduct of the department is reason for concern.

“We regard it as totally unacceptable that a government department should try to prevent information which may be embarrassing to it (the transport department) from being published, particularly information about this particular system which has caused losses of millions of rands to motor dealers and general inconvenience to the public, and that we believe is in the public interest,” Louw says.

Now Sanef is calling on the judiciary to note the increasing use of interdicts against news media, and to apply injunction that the Bill of Rights applies to all laws and binds the legislature.

Collen Msibi, spokesperson for the Department of Transport, confirmed to Bush Radio that an urgent application was launched at the Pretoria High Court.

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