The South African National Editor’s Forum (Sanef) has condemned the attack on SABC journalists while they were covering a story at Buffelshoek in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga.

The SABC News crew from Mpumalanga was threatened on Thursday by more than 20 African National Congress (ANC) supporters as they were covering a service delivery election story in the area. They had to be rescued by the police.

The ANC supporters including their ward 21 councillor in Buffelhoek, outside Arconhoek, threatened to burn the vehicle that was used by the SABC crew and also burn their equipment.

They say the SABC has to seek permission from the ward councillor to cover stories in their village. The group then blocked the SABC vehicle demanding that the footage be deleted.

The police were alerted and the victims were rescued.

VIDEO: SABC crew in Mpumalanga held against their will allegedly by ANC supporters:

Sanef is calling out on political parties and their followers to be tolerant.

The Forum’s Secretary, Reggy Moalusi says, “We would like really say to communities especially this time to Political parties and supporters that they need to respect the work that is being done by journalists. We know we are at the time of elections but the time of elections does mean our journalists must be attacked, it does mean our journalists must be held ransom against their will. We really condemn that incident and it concerns us and we hope that during this time way after the elections we won’t see such incidents.”

‘Plan afoot to ensure safety’

Mpumalanga Police Spokesperson Donald Mdhluli says they have a plan in place to ensure that during the elections journalists cover stories without being threatened by communities.

He says, “We like also to urge members of the media houses liaison with us if they would carrying out such duties in relation to the incident that occurred, which could ever experience, members of the SAPS were called  and quickly came on board  where they managed to save the members  and they found not harmed  and also their vehicle and properties were also saved.”

The SABC crew, Nhlamulo Mabaso, Lungile Nqcongwane and Motsebi wa Monareng had to leave the area escorted by the police.

The Bushbuckridge Municipality has condemned the incident, saying journalists have the right to report stories without fear.

The Mayor of the Bushbuckridge Municipality, Sylvia Nxumalo says, communities need to be educated about the role the media plays in communities.

“It is an unfortunate which happened in our municipality. I think there is a need for people to be educated for women and men that they are not here to report anything they are here, to make sure that people get information in every corner of this world. I think education needs to intensify to our public representatives to understand the issue of the media…”

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