Intimidating a witness

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago says: "The interim board wants to make absolutely sure that journalists are given the space to do their work freely.

They are taking a very proactive approach to ensure that the working environment is good." But while Krige says that there have been improvements at the SABC within the past two months, he reiterates the widespread concerns in the South African media industry that there is an increasingly "orchestrated effort" to intimidate local journalists, and that this extends far beyond the public broadcaster.

South African political journalist Karima Brown, a former colleague of Bruce's when she was political editor at Business Day, says that she was physically assaulted and threatened by a female member of BLF when she arrived at Bruce's house to contest the picket; she has since laid charges against the alleged assailant.

More recently on Monday, July 17, investigative journalist Micah Reddy also gave a statement describing how he'd been assaulted by members of BLF after a televised panel debate on fake news at Shine Studios in Johannesburg.

This came to a head on the day of Venter's death, when the BLF picketed outside the private residence of Peter Bruce, a columnist for Business Day newspaper and editor-at-large of Tiso Blackstar, a major South African private media corporation.

Venter had found her calling: she was set on becoming a journalist.

At the age of 24 Venter would go on to become a current affairs journalist and producer for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), the state-owned public broadcaster.

Within weeks, Venter and seven other SABC employees, who together came to be known as the SABC 8, had been sacked by the broadcaster for their public defiance of its policies - policies Classens says hark back to the apartheid era, when the SABC was "interfered with to the point where it was essentially the government mouthpiece" of the authoritarian and segregationist National Party.

Venter and three of her SABC colleagues took their dismissal to South Africa's Labour Court, where it was ruled that they'd been unfairly and unlawfully dismissed and had to be reinstated.

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