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Monday, 14 February, 2000, 10:23 GMT
SA editors face racism questions

Poverty and racism remain in post-apartheid South Africa

Two top South African editors of Johannesburg-based newspapers have been ordered to appear before a tribunal looking into racial bias.

The Sunday Times said that its editor and the editor of the weekly Mail and Guardian had been subpoenaed to appear before the Human Rights Commission.

The commission, which has been looking into the matter, has already found the press racist.

The newspapers say they have not been given any list of specific violations.

But the editors will have to testify on their reporting of "national and international events which impact on racism and incidents of racism".

ANC condemns press

South African President Thabo Mbeki recently said he believed that racism still marred the lives of millions of black South Africans, six years after the end of white-minority rule.

Thabo Mbeki President Mbeki supports the move
His African National Congress party also feels the papers are too pessimistic about South Africa's future under black leadership.

It says the press is preoccupied with issues like crime and that it has a narrow, suburban view of South Africa that is alien to the lives of most blacks.

In a preliminary report released in November, the HRC declared that racism still existed in the media.

It found that journalists, although not explicitly racist, were guilty of racial stereotyping that associated blacks with crime and portrayed Africa as a brutal continent.

Commission findings

The commission said there were regular stories on how Africans threatened South Africa, such as one story headlined: "Evil minded Nigerians blamed for violence".

The media was also charged with portraying corruption as a black issue and trivialising the deaths of black people.

The journalists will appear before the hearing next month.

A freedom of speech group has accused the commission of heavyhandedness and has expressed concern that the freedom of the media could be infringed.

The Freedom of Expression Institute said it was "heavy-handed" of the commission to subpoena editors and it feared the body had lost its respect for media freedom.

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See also:
22 Nov 99 |  Africa
South African media branded racist
26 Jan 00 |  Africa
Analysis: Discrimination taints 'rainbow nation'
26 Jan 00 |  Africa
South Africa bans discrimination
08 Jan 00 |  Africa
Racism 'still rife' in South Africa

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