Ronnie Kasrils, a former minister in Nelson Mandela’s and Thabo Mbeki’s cabinets, has come out strongly against the arrest and harassment of journalists doing their jobs in South Africa. In a letter to members of the SA Pen organisation, he warns our government to take heed of events happening across the African continent.
Dear Deborah & Fellow Pen members
As a former government minister and as a writer I strongly deplore the reported police harassment and arrest of journalists in our country.
We struggled and sacrificed for freedom and democracy and that included the universally cherished right to know the truth through freedom of expression and the principles of a free press. The police are there to protect our citizens and to uphold our constitutional rights.
We cannot and will not tolerate any form of restriction, intimidation or violence against any member of the media engaged in their work. Such malpractice is a regression to the bad old apartheid days and reminiscent of the interference so recently meted out to the media reporting events in North Africa and the Middle East.
Our government and security services need to take heed of how such heavy-handed methods over time leads to a point where the people’s anger finally boils over.
(deputy minister defence 1994-99; minister water and forestry 1999-2004; minister for intelligence services 2004-08)