Media release

Government statement on the commemoration of Black Wednesday

20 October 2019

19 October 2019

Today marks exactly 42 years since the brutal apartheid regime silenced independent voices by closing certain publications. That action gave rise to what is today commonly known as “Black Wednesday”.

On Wednesday 19 October 1977 the Apartheid Regime showed its contempt for freedom of expression and media freedom when it banned The World, Weekend World as well as other publications and arrested Percy Qoboza who was the editor of The World and various other black consciousness activists.

Despite these horrendous efforts of the Apartheid Regime to silence its critics, the people of South Africa defeated the Apartheid system and democratically adopted a Constitution that guarantees freedom of expression and media freedom. 

Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu said “ Government confirms its commitment to media freedom on this 42nd commemoration of Black Wednesday. To this day media freedom forms part of one of the important cornerstones of our democracy and freedom.” 

Minister Mthembu further stated “We have in the recent past witnessed the crucial role played by the media in exposing corruption and state capture.”

He also cautioned that this freedom also comes with huge responsibility and said Government therefore cautions the media to always self-reflect. 

In that regard Minister Mthembu welcomes South African National Editors Forum (SANEF)’s decision to institute an independent media inquiry into media credibility and ethics, headed by retired judge Kathy Satchwell.

As we commemorate this important day in the history of our country, let us further entrench the importance of real independence of the media as a fundamental cornerstone of democracy!

Nonceba Mhlauli
Spokesperson to the Minister in the Presidency, Mr Jackson Mthembu
Cell: 072 6233 462 

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