The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) has described the death of one of the so-called South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) 8 and senior current affairs producer at SABC radio station RSG, Suna Venter as a “monumental loss”.
“Venter was a courageous journalist who stood against bullies that were proxies of those who had captured the public broadcaster to serve their own interests and not the national development agenda,” said Sanco spokesperson, Jabu Mahlangu.
Mahlangu expressed disappointment with law enforcement agencies for their failure to unmask those behind the death threats and incidents that had hounded Venter in recent months and seemingly compromised her health.
“’How can we claim media freedom when those exposing the rot in our society live in constant fear of the ruthless force that is determined to silence those who are the voice of the voiceless?” he asked.
He said that a fitting tribute for Venter would be to pursue all investigations into reported incidents she had to endure for which no one had thus far been held responsible.
Venter’s body was discovered in her Fairlands flat on Thursday morning, her family confirmed.
In a statement, 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”.
Venter was part of the SABC 8 — a group who were suspended from the public broadcaster after they voiced their concern about unlawful interference in the newsroom and editorial policies that were implemented.
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 on behalf of the Venter family RSG Current Affairs executive producer Foeta Krige confirmed her death.
“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. “
– African News Agency