The South African Editors Forum has spoken out strongly against the looting and violence in South Africa and condemned, specifically, the damage done to radio stations.
In a statement, SANEF said: “As the looting, violence and unrest continue across Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) has noted with shame the looting and extensive damage done at two radio stations in Alexandra, Johannesburg and in Kagiso, Mogale City.
“Alex FM and West Side FM on the West Rand were attacked by thugs, who damaged property belonging to the stations as the thuggery, violence, lawlessness continues across Gauteng.
“The two stations have over the years been of great service to their communities.
“Alex FM has been in operation for 27 years, while West Side FM has been on the air for eight years. It is a sad day when properties are vandalised by criminals purporting to have a cause to fight for, yet they choose to use violence and vandalism to achieve that cause.
“The two stations are now battling to get back on air and serve their communities as broadcasting equipment, among other assets, have been stolen.
“We call on the South African Police Service and the SA National Defence Force to continue acting against these criminals, clearly hellbent on cutting all forms of key news communication that are being delivered, such as those done by Alex FM and West Side FM.
“SANEF spoke to both stations, which now need help as they have lost a lot of assets, with West Side FM at the local mall, where shops were looted and vandalised. Alex FM has put all the losses, inclusive of studio computers, equipment and infrastructure around R5 million.
“It took years for these two stations to be built, yet thugs saw fit to vandalise and loot them. SANEF encourages the two stations to open criminal cases, which will hopefully result in successful prosecutions.
“In KZN, we note Premier Sihle Zikalala’s call for the media to be allowed space to do their job, while we also note unacceptable racial attacks and some police officers who continue to treat journalists with utter disrespect.
“We acknowledge that everyone has a constitutional right to protest, but what we have seen in recent days has now gone beyond protest, rather criminality that must be condemned, with those arrested to be prosecuted.
“We would like to praise all our journalists for their bravery, and amazing coverage in these challenging conditions. “