Attack on journalist is an encroachment on freedom in SA

30 June 2017 - 07:07 By The Times Editorial
Peter Bruce confronts the protesters outside his home.
Peter Bruce confronts the protesters outside his home.
Image: Abigail Javier

Yesterday Business Day published a column by its former editor, Peter Bruce, on how he has been harassed since writing articles critical of the Gupta family and state capture.

Bruce wrote:

"It turns out that for about a week in September 2016, [the Guptas] had me followed and secretly photographed: my wife and I leaving the house for our early morning walk with our dogs, me having coffee with friends in Parkview, me visiting the offices of psychologists as I looked for help for one of my family, me visiting a business to order custom-made collars for the dogs. When the owner walked me back to my car and gave me a goodbye hug, they photographed that too."

Bruce was unaware of the surveillance, but began to get threatening messages.

One of them, from Black First Land First president and Gupta ally Andile Mngxitama, on Twitter read "you going to get a heart attack Peter; better prepare yourself".

Then the Twitter handles invented by the Guptas began to chime in with personal details. An assault on Bruce was being prepared.

That assault eventually came in the form of a website, purporting to expose "white monopoly capital", which made salacious allegations about Bruce and other journalists.

However, its propaganda was so crude and laughable that only the Guptas and those on their payroll believed it. Everyone else dismissed it or openly supported Bruce.

Then, on the morning Bruce's latest article appeared, as if to confirm the conspiracy for any remaining doubters, Mngxitama's supporters arrived bearing placards at Bruce's private residence.

This represents a new low for the Gupta shadow state - a brazen public attack on a journalist for reporting on state capture.

President Jacob Zuma and the ANC ought to strongly condemn this attack on a journalist. Unless, of course, they quietly support this encroachment on freedom.