NEWS

Sanef Strongly Condemns Targeting Of Peter Bruce

Senior journalist and editor-at-large of Tiso Blackstar Peter Bruce says he won't stop writing about the Guptas despite intimidation.

29/06/2017 16:15 SAST | Updated 29/06/2017 17:05 SAST

The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) has said it strongly condemns a protest held outside senior journalist Peter Bruce's home on Thursday.

Black First Land First (BLF) protestors targeted the prominent journalist outside his home in Parkview, Johannesburg, according to Times Live.

Approximately 20 BLF members gathered outside his home, accusing him of producing fake news and writing "land or death" on his roller door.

The publication also said BLF members hurled insults at Bruce and told him to pack his bags and return to Europe so they could occupy his home that they claim is "built on stolen land".

BLF announced on its website earlier on Thursday it would conduct protest action against Bruce, publishing his home address and a time for protestors to gather outside. The organisation claims Bruce is "manufacturing fake news against even the Public Protector, advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, because she has ruled that Absa must pay back the money".

Deputy chairperson of Sanef, Katy Katopodis, told HuffPost SA it is not unusual for this type of thing to happen outside of a media house but that for Thursday's event to take place outside his private home is unacceptable.

"Reporters should be able to carry out their work without fear of intimidation," she said.

Responding to how journalists can be protected from harassment, Katopodis said there is a nationwide responsibility to stand up for journalists. "Media freedom is South Africa's freedom and it is all our jobs as South Africans to protect freedom of speech," she said.


'I won't stop writing about the Guptas'

Speaking to eNCA's Jeremy Maggs on Thursday afternoon, Bruce said, "This is one of the consequences of writing about the Guptas."

In a piece published on BusinessLive on Thursday morning, Bruce said he believes the Gupta brothers had "approved and paid" for him to be put under surveillance.

He further wrote that the website www.wmcleaks.com is "in every detail a copy of a site called Black Opinion, which is [BLF leader Andile] Mngxitama's vehicle". "The Guptas are generous friends," he wrote.

Questioned by Maggs on whether he would engage the Gupta family, Bruce told eNCA he doesn't think there is any point. "They will simply deny everything," he said.

"The fact that you can have a group of people making noise, wreaking havoc outside your house because of an opinion you expressed - a mild one at that - is serious. This can happen to other people as well. They were threatening to go [to other media houses]. So somebody has to stop it, I don't quite know how," he said.

Bruce said he will be taking extra security precautions with the assistance of his company Tiso Blackstar (formerly Times Media Group) for which he said he is deeply appreciative.

Despite intimidation, Bruce said he will continue writing about the Gupta family. "It's the biggest story in the country. I don't know how you can't. The level and depth of thievery is so deep, I couldn't live with myself if I didn't [continue writing]".

"It's tricky," he said. "If you are reporting accurately or commenting fairly as you think you are, it's not going to stop people who disagree taking physical action as they have this morning."

'BLF will continue to target racist, anti-Gupta journalists'

Thandiswa Yaphi, treasurer of BLF, told eNCA their protest outside Bruce's house was not intended to intimidate him.

She said BLF was there to tell him he "needs to change his writing". "He needs to write about the billions stolen by white people. The Ciex report said Absa has stolen money, but he won't write this because he is trying to divert attention from people being corrupt," she said.

READ: Mngxitama On The Gupta Emails -- It's A White Plot

Yaphi told Maggs the organisation will continue to target other journalists that are "writing racist comments about us and the Guptas". "The only reason we are protecting the Guptas is because they are black people and we will protect all black people under attack from white people. We are saying white people should stop being arrogant. They still possess our country," she said.

Yaphi repeatedly dodged Maggs' question on eNCA on whether the protest was an act of intimidation and vandalism. She initially said the organisation was not responsible for the words "land or death" written on his roller door. When Maggs asked for confirmation the organisation was denying having written the words, she told Maggs not to "put words in her mouth", adding she "doesn't know who wrote it".

BLF's leader Andile Mngxitama, on request for further comment, directed HuffPost SA to the press release published on their website earlier this morning.