The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) has rounded on Cricket South Africa (CSA) for its attempts to ‘intimidate journalists critical of the sport’s governing body’.

SANEF warned that the CSA’s actions ‘will have a chilling effect on the media’s ability to cover all aspects of cricket, not just what happens on the field of play, but also what happens behind closed doors where the sport is administered’.

The organisation said in a statement that the CSA’s actions ‘smack of bullying, are unacceptable and must be fiercely resisted in order to preserve the independence of the media and journalists’ ability to report without fear or favour’.

SANEF’s statement followed the revelation that five journalists were informed that they were on a list circulated to all stadiums in the country, including Newlands in Cape Town and the Wanderers in Johannesburg, and that they would not be granted access to report on the Mzansi Super League. The five reporters are Stuart Hess (The Star), Ken Borland (The Citizen), Neil Manthorp (SABC), Firdose Moonda (ESPN Cricinfo) and Telford Vice (Cricbuzz.com).

Their accreditation was apparently later reinstated.

SANEF noted, however: ‘On Monday, Thabang Moroe, CSA’s chief executive, admitted on Talk Radio 702 that the journalists’ accreditation was revoked because the organisation was unhappy about their reporting on CSA and the sport.’

It added: ‘Moroe’s statements are deeply concerning. Journalists must be allowed to do their job of holding those in power accountable without fear of intimidation or that they will be prevented from doing their job. Moroe and CSA have a duty to respect the independence of journalists without resorting to bully tactics. This is bound to have the opposite effect of what CSA and Moroe would want to achieve.’

SANEF called on CSA ‘to apologise to the journalists involved, to ensure that they have access to stadiums and to respect the independence of the media. We will closely monitor the situation and won’t hesitate to take further steps.’

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