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Demonstration in South Africa calls for reinstatement of Cape Times editor

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has given its full backing to a demonstration taking place in Cape Town on Tuesday 17 December, outside the editorial office of South African daily newspaper, Cape Times, to demand the reinstatement of the publication's editor Alide Desnois.

Capes Times is owned by Independent News & Media South African (INMSA), which was bought last August by Sekunjalo Independent Media Consortium. According to the IFJ'S South African affiliate, the Media Workers' Association of South Africa (MWASA), the Cape Times last week published an article by reporter Melanie Gosling which questioned the irregular awarding of a major government tender to the Sekunjalo consortium to manage the country's fishery vessels. Sekunjalo subsequently relieved Dasnois of her post and threatened to sue her and Gosling.

The demonstration, which is being jointly organised by the MWASA and the Right2Know campaign, has been called to demand the reinstatement of Desnois and the withdrawal of the threats against the two journalists, and to stand up for editorial independence and press freedom in south Africa.

"We fully support this demonstration and the demands made by MWASA as they fight for justice for Alide Desnois and Melanie Gosling and stand up for free and independent media in south Africa," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. "We stand in solidarity with our affiliate as they work to ensure the rights of journalists at Independent Newspapers, particularly the right to consultation and the requirement of the owners to respect labour laws and procedures."

The MWASA remains in ongoing contact with INSMA and the Sekunjalo Consortium and has pledged to support Dasnosis and her colleagues throughout their ordeal in order to sustain workers rights, journalistic independence, good corporate governance and media freedom.

The demonstration is calling for:

1. Editorial independence: The proposed editorial charter to be drafted - and editorial advisory board to be appointed - by people and institutions entirely independent of the owners of Independent Newspapers.

2. The unconditional withdrawal of all threats to sue Alide Dasnois and Melanie Gosling.

3. The unconditional reinstatement of Alide Dasnois as editor of the Cape Times, should she be willing to return after the treatment meted out to her. Alternatively, a suitable settlement to compensate for all her losses, including the indignities she has had to suffer.

4. The written assurance that SIM, Sekunjalo Holdings and Sekunjalo Investments and their chairman, Iqbal Surve, will never again sue, or threaten to sue, any of Independent Newspapers' titles, editors and editorial staff.
What other IFEX members are saying
  • South Africa: Cape Times in crisis as editor fired after corruption story

    Social media have been abuzz with criticism against the removal of Sorbonne-educated Dasnois. She is known as an ink-in-the-veins journalist who is dedicated to fair and accurate news coverage with integrity. In response to the outcry, Sekunjalo executive chairperson Dr Iqbal Survé claimed in a public statement on 9 December that Dasnois was “not fired” but offered other positions. He also suggested that the decision to “move” Dasnois was in response to the “wholly unsatisfactory sales performance of that title over the last few years”. In regard to this claim, it is worth noting that declining circulation besets the whole of South Africa’s newspaper industry and is not limited to the Cape Times.

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