Sanef disappointed by continued imprisonment of journalist

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has expressed disappointment at the continued imprisonment of Sunday World freelance journalist Thomo Nkgadima.

Nkgadima was arrested on charges of trespassing and intimidation after he took pictures of the house of Eddie Maila, the mayor of Fetakgomo Tubatse local municipality in Burgersfort, Limpopo.

Nkgadima took the pictures from outside of the mayor’s residence in Praktiseer, where there are alleged illegal electrical connections.

The mayor has erected a double-storey mansion in the area.

Bail denied

After spending Christmas in jail, Nkgadima appeared in court on Wednesday and was denied bail despite facing schedule-one charges.

“Sanef is disappointed that such charges were brought forward against a journalist who was doing his job and never trespassed on Maila’s property, nor intimidated anyone,” said the forum in a statement.

“Editors at Sunday World have informed Sanef that Maila has previously threatened Nkgadima because the latter sought to do his work as a journalist.

“This is a worrying development that Sanef has always condemned. Our democracy requires that journalists be allowed to do their work without any inhibitions.”

Sunday World previously reported that Nkgadima was probing the mayor’s silence in dealing with illegal electricity connections which are happening in his neighbourhood.

Nkgadima also wanted to find out why the area was not formally connected to the Eskom electricity grid.

Trespassing and intimidation

While Nkgadima was doing his work, he was charged with trespassing and intimidation. Maila has alleged that Nkgadima gained access to his property by climbing over the wall.

However, Nkgadima disputed the allegation, saying he took the pictures of the mayor’s house from outside of his property.

“They say I entered the property. It is a lie. I never went inside the yard. I took the pictures of the house from the street,” said Nkgadima.

The pictures that Nkgadima has shared show that they were taken from outside Maila’s property.

Abuse of power

Sunday World acting editor Ngwako Malatji condenmed Maila’s actions, calling them an abuse of power and apartheid government-style intimidation.

“We don’t expect journalists to be treated like this. This is very sad indeed,” said Malatji.

“It is abuse of power. If he thinks that by getting Nkgadima arrested the story will go away, well he is wrong. We will pursue the story.”

Latest News