Stringent security measures aimed at controlling the movement of journalists were in full effect on Sunday at the ANC's policy conference.
Journalists on Sunday afternoon were escorted by security to hear an impromptu address from party deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa during his walk-about in the business expo area in one of the main halls.
Restricted from walking between venues, members of the press were transported in minibuses and on golf carts between the closely monitored media area and the expo area where the Progressive Business Forum breakfasts are being held daily.
This media drive through the #ANCPolicy conference enclosure feels about as surreal as visiting the Chernobyl restricted zone 15 years ago— carien du plessis (@carienduplessis) July 2, 2017
Going back to media lounge we being driven a km or two around the venue to avoid the 200m road that would have us see delegates #ANCpolicy— carien du plessis (@carienduplessis) July 2, 2017
HuffPost SA journalists on Friday requested permission to film vendors running ANC merchandise stalls and were initially offered an escort by ANC personnel. Security, however, had already been ramped up and movement outside the media area after the Progressive Business Forum breakfasts in the early morning was denied.
Additional requests on Monday to photograph statues of struggle stalwarts set up outside the main venue were also denied, with a co-ordinator on the ground saying security was very tight and "even a Member of Parliament had to be sent back this morning". Media have, however, on at least one occasion been permitted to film in this vicinity either under escort or early in the morning.
According to TimesLive on Friday, security guards had been instructed to confiscate media accreditation tags if journalists attempted to reach delegates for comment.
'ANC concerned by intimidation of journalists'
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula on Sunday, meanwhile, said threats made against journalists in the country would not be tolerated.
"When people march to Solly Mapaila's house we must hit them hard, and when they march to Peter Bruce's house we must hit them hard. When you come to my house I'll finish you. Police have a clear response, suffocate these people," he said.
ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize also on Sunday expressed the party's concern over journalists being intimidated or targeted.
Mkhize said the ANC supports press freedom as one of the country's strengths. His comments come days after members of Black First Land First (BLF) staged a protest outside Peter Bruce's house and subsequently said they would target several "racist" high profile journalists.