SA commemorates Black Wednesday

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pretoria - Various media, academics and human rights groups in South Africa will today mark national Media Freedom Day.

The National Press Club, in a statement ahead of the commemoration, said it would never forfeit its responsibility to defend media freedom in South Africa.

"Media freedom is one of the cornerstones of democracy and this freedom, entrenched in the South African Constitution, should be guarded at all times," said Press Club Chairman Yusuf Abramjee.

On 19 October 1977, the apartheid government banned The World and Weekend World as well as Pro Veritate, a religious publication that was run by the late Beyers Naude.

The day was later known as Black Wednesday.

The Press Club said the media must remain vigilant and continue to fight for press freedom but should also take the responsibility of actively fighting against racism.

"Media freedom plays a very important role in any country. It is an essential pillar for any democracy as it creates and motivates public debate," said Abramjee.

He said the day offered an opportunity to reflect on how the scene had changed since the birth of South Africa's democracy in 1994.

Two of events will be held at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and Wits University theatres by organisations like the Human Rights Commission, the South Africa National Editors' Forum, the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, the Freedom of Expression Institute and Print Media of South Africa.

In Port Elizabeth, journalists, students, trade unionists and businesspeople are expected to turn out in large numbers at the events