Government has joined the South African media industry in commemorating the 45th anniversary of Black Wednesday, also marked as National Press Freedom Day.
This day serves as a reminder of how far the South African media has come and affords the country an opportunity to reflect on media freedom.
On this day in 1977, the apartheid government banned independent media in an attempt to silence the media from reporting about the brutal acts of the apartheid regime. Journalists, which include the then editor of The World, Percy Qoboza were taken into detention.
“A free media is an integral part of our democracy and government is committed to press freedom. We value our regular interactions with the media formations such as SANEF, the Press Club and the Press Gallery.
“We will continue to further strengthen our relations and cement the importance of independence of the media. The freedom of the press must be respected because any threat to the freedom of the media undermines our democracy,” Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele said.
Gungubele said the right to press freedom and freedom of expression is an important cornerstone of democracy.
He highlighted that the Constitution entrenches the right to freedom of expression, including media freedom because it recognises that the media plays a crucial role in ensuring that all South Africans and government are held to account.
Government, he said, urges the media to continue to uphold the standards of ethical reporting.
“We recognise the media as partners in strengthening our democracy and promoting our rights, which many have fought and died for during the years of struggle. We embrace any platform that allows us to strengthen relationships with the media, while also allowing us to speak about the work of government and to share our successes and challenges,” Gungubele said.
The Minister added that government appreciates the good work of the media, especially the diligent work that journalists did during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Government also remembers the brave journalists who lost their lives whilst bringing reliable information to our homes.