Disinformation during an election period is particularly dangerous. For elections to be free, fair, and credible, it is of crucial importance that the electorate has access to accurate, credible, and reliable information. The insidious nature of disinformation works by creating confusion, doubt and mistrust in credible institutions (news media, independent electorial bodies etc.) which can affect how and where the public chooses to access information. If those sources of information are not a credible, the opportunity for false information is that much greater. This directly impacts the nature of a free and fair election.
In the event that a member of the media is facing any form of threat or violence, this must be reported to the South African Police Service as a matter of urgency, as the appropriate authority tasked with handling criminal matters.
All members of the media are encouraged to prioritise their safety and the safety of those around them, put in place necessary measures for protection, and seek appropriate assistance from colleagues, friends and family, and the designated bodies that can assist.
The SAPS can be contacted on 10111.
A complaint may also be lodged with the South African Human Rights Commission in accordance with the Complaints Handling Procedures (1 January 2018). The South African Human Rights Commission is competent to investigate any alleged violation of human rights, either on its own initiative or on receipt of a complaint, and has a wide discretion to decide whether to investigate a complaint or not.
During the election period, the IEC should be approached with any matter that falls within its jurisdiction as a contravention of the electoral law framework. For example, section 8 of the Electoral Code of Conduct requires candidates to respect the role of the media during elections, including by not preventing members of the media from accessing public political meetings, marches, demonstrations and rallies. It further provides that every party and candidate must take all reasonable steps to ensure that journalists are not subjected to harassment, intimidation, hazard, threat or physical assault by any of their representatives or supporters. In the event that a registered party or candidate does not adhere to these provisions, this should be brought to the attention of the Commission as a breach of the Electoral Code of Conduct.
For media inquiries please contact: [email protected]