JOHANNESBURG, June 29 – The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has expressed its “deep shock” at the untimely death of senior SABC journalist Suna Venter.
In a statement on Friday, Sanef said Venter would always be remembered for never giving up, even when she faced threats and intimidation.
“She believed in the role of the public broadcaster as enshrined in our constitution to play a central role in strengthening our democracy,” the organisation said. “Sanef extends its deepest condolences to her parents and siblings, as well as all her colleagues and those who knew her.”
Venter was found dead in her Fairland’s home on Thursday morning.
Together with another seven journalists, Venter had formed part of a group that came to be known as the SABC 8 after they were suspended from the public broadcaster when they voiced their concerns about editorial interference in the newsrooms. The eight journalists were fired and seven of them were later reinstated after also objecting to former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s policy on not airing footage from violent protests.
In a statement Thursday, her family said the 32-year-old was recently diagnosed with a cardiac condition known as stress cardiomyopathy or “Broken Heart Syndrome, believed to be caused by trauma and prolonged periods of unnatural stress”.
“Over the course of the past year, she received various threatening SMS messages. Her flat was broken into on numerous occasions, the brake cables of her car were cut and her car’s tyres were slashed. She was shot at and abducted — tied to a tree at Melville Koppies, while the grass around her was set alight,” her family said in a statement.
“On a separate occasion earlier this year, she was shot in the face with an unknown weapon and received surgery to remove the metal pellets from her face. During the past year, she was assaulted on three various occasions. Those closest to her believe that her condition was exacerbated, if not caused, by the events of the past year. “
Venter, together with her SABC 8 colleagues, were the recipients of the Nat Nakasa Award in 2016 for their bravery and courage.
– African News Agency (ANA)