Scores of journalists staged a silent picket outside Parliament’s main gates at lunchtime on Wednesday.
Forming a line along Cape Town’s Plein Street, they presented a phalanx of placards to passing motorists, many of whom hooted in support.
“Keep the Press Free”, “Hands Off the Media” and “Fight for Your Right to Know”, the posters roclaimed.
Many of the journalists had sealed their mouths with black tape.
A small police contingent kept an eye on proceedings from further up the street
Battle with government
The media, along with many civil society groups, are locked in battle with the government over the government’s effort to introduce the controversial Protection of Information Bill, seen as a threat to press freedom. Journalists are also opposed to an African National Congress plan to introduce a media tribunal, which, if established, would allow the government to regulate the press.
The picket comes a day after about 15 journalists, from both local and foreign news organisations, staged a sit-in outside a parliamentary committee room.
This was in protest against the committee’s attempt to hold a closed-door meeting with the SABC, which was stopped after the media won a court interdict preventing the in-camera briefing.
The ruling was handed down as an interim order, following an urgent application by the South African National Editors’ Forum. — Sapa