mce_keep=”true”In a letter sent to the SAHRC on Thursday night, the editor of Talk Radio 702 and 94.7 Highveld Stereo, states her complaint is related to the “refusal by the Forum of Black Journalists to allow white journalists to attend a lunch with ANC president Jacob Zuma”.
The lunch, reportedly considered an off-the-record briefing, was set to take place on Friday (22 February). This event would mark the re-establishment of the forum.
“Following several queries about whether a senior reporter in the Talk Radio 702 Newsroom Ã¢Â€Â“ who’s been covering Mr Zuma for several years Ã¢Â€Â“ was allowed to attend Ã¢Â€Â“ it became evident that he could not go, simply because he is white.
“In a democratic South Africa, where racial prejudice is not tolerated, I find this totally unacceptable. I believe that this goes against the spirit of the Constitution.
“While I have absolutely no objection to the existence of such an organisation Ã¢Â€Â“ the organisers appear to have chosen this high profile event to make a political statement on racial grounds,” Katopodis’s letter reads.
The forum’s chairman, Abbey Makoe, said in an interview with Talk Radio 702’s John Robbie on Friday morning he did not find the exclusion of white journalists problematic.
He said the forum was one for previously disadvantaged journalists. If the aim of the meeting with Zuma had been to discuss or disadvantage white journalists, it would be problematic. This was, however, not the aim.
When TheMediaOnline tried to contact Makoe, he was not available for comment as he was, according to the SABC’s news office, in a meeting.
SAHRC spokesperson Vincent Moaga confirmed that Katopodis’s complaint had been received.
The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) said in a statement released on Friday it “strongly deplores” the FBJ’s decision to “effectively exclude” white journalists from attending the event at which Zuma would speak.
“Sanef respects the FBJ’s right to organise and associate as it sees fit provided this does not undermine the open society and democratic values of our constitution and country.
“The address by an important leader such as Zuma is of great public importance, particularly given his views on the media. It is in the interests of journalism and the public at large that this meeting should be open to all journalists wishing to report on it. Sanef therefore calls on the FBJ to rescind the decision and allow all journalists to report on it,” the statement reads.
Talk Radio 702 reported just after 13:00 on Friday journalist Stephen Grootes was shown the door at the event in Sandton.
It was later reported Zuma said he was not responsible for making the function a racially exclusive one.
Sapa/M&Gonline reported an ANC spokesperson confirmed the party had accepted the invitation from the FBJ, but “would not comment on the composition of the organisation or the exclusivity of its membership”.
Ã¢Â–Â This is an updated version of the story “Only these journalists allowed”, which was published on TheMediaOnline on 21 February.