An SABC journalist has laid charges of intimidation.

An SABC journalist has laid charges of intimidation.

  • An intimidation case was opened against a prosecutor and two murder accused.
  • It is alleged that they intimidated an SABC journalist at his workplace.
  • The intimidation allegedly relates to stories he covered for the SABC about the murder of a witness.

An SABC journalist is living in fear after a prosecutor and two people accused of the murder of a witness allegedly intimidated him at work.

According to the journalist, who asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons, the intimidation related to stories he had covered for the SABC about the murder of the witness, Julius Ndomba Nyundu.

READ | Sanef appeals for safety of journalists after attack on eNCA crew

He said he refused to see the three visitors last week but spoke to them on the phone.

“I then spoke to one of the three men, Bronkhorstspruit prosecutor Solly Leballo, on the phone. He threatened to sue the SABC over the stories and even disputed what witnesses said in the stories.”

Three men killed Nyundu in front of his family in Mamelodi, Pretoria, and fled in a Mercedes-Benz. Nyundu was a key witness in a bribery case involving Leballo.

Leballo was reportedly arrested in 2018 after he was caught allegedly accepting a R100 000 bribe from the alleged murderers of Mandla Ledwaba, who was shot in 2018 during an argument over a vehicle.

The murderers and their associates allegedly intimidated Nyundu’s family. His widow and her five children went into hiding.

‘I live in fear’

News24 understands that the investigating officer is in a witness protection programme after she allegedly refused to accept a cash bribe and was later threatened.

The journalist has since alerted his managers about the alleged intimidation and has laid criminal charges.

“I live in fear and cannot freely go anywhere. They know where I work and I believe that they showed up at my workplace, knowing what they were doing. A prosecutor and murder accused threatened me…and it seems they are friends now. I have never come across such a relationship emanating from a criminal case,” the journalist said.

SABC’s head of news Phathiswa Magopeni said she was concerned about the journalist’s safety.

“I await a report on the matter. His line managers were informed about this. We will map a way forward once I read the full report. We are concerned,” she said on Saturday.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said she was aware of the journalist’s complaint.

“I advised the SABC journalist to open a case against the individuals so that matter can be thoroughly investigated. The case has been opened for investigation.” 

Efforts to get comment from National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana were unsuccessful. Comment will be added once received.

Meanwhile, the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has condemned the intimidation.

“Sanef is concerned over the recent escalation in attacks against journalists and calls on the law enforcement authorities to act speedily investigate the case and to bring the perpetrators to book. Sanef reminds the South African Police Service and the National [Prosecuting] Authorities to honour the new UN resolution on the safety of journalists, which signals a strong international commitment to end all attacks, reprisals, intimidation, and violence against journalists. State institutions are urged to commit to using their powers to protect the safety of journalists and not to allow anyone to harass and intimidate journalists,” the organisation said in a statement.

Sanef called on the government to prevent and remedy all human rights violations committed against journalists.

“Failure to prioritise the safety of journalists creates a climate of fear which pushes journalists into self-censorship and silence. Article 19 encourages all states to continue to engage with civil society on the ways to enhance their response to threats facing journalists as we look to the future,” the statement read.

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