PEN Afrikaans condemns attack on Karima Brown and media freedom in South Africa

Following the publication online of a WhatsApp message from journalist Karima Brown, which she inadvertently sent to the Media Statements WhatsApp group of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Ms. Brown has been subject to vile and shocking threats and abuse, primarily propagated on Twitter by the leadership and supporters of the EFF. 

The EFF’s press release on the matter, dated 6 March 2019, labels Brown an ANC operative and not a journalist, and questions her integrity and the nature of her position within eNCA. It contains no apology for the publication of Ms. Brown’s mobile number on Twitter, a serious breach of her right to privacy, and does not condemn the barrage of bullying, intimidation, derogatory treatment and threats of violence that has transpired since.

This has been a shocking attack, not only on Ms. Brown’s right to privacy and fundamental right to freedom and security of the person, but also on media freedom in South Africa, as pointed out by the National Editors’ Forum in a statement which PEN Afrikaans fully supports. This type of conduct is especially worrying considering the prevalence of gender-based violence in South Africa.

As an organisation defending freedom of expression and media freedom, PEN Afrikaans condemns the attack in the strongest terms and urges the EFF leadership to do the same.