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.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.The Guptas have been mired in corruption scandals since a series of hundreds of thousands of emails was leaked to South African media outlets including the ama Bhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, as well as Media24 and the Daily Maverick.
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."We used to worry about her working too hard, but we would never have asked her to stop. According to veteran SABC journalist and media ombudsman George Claassens, Venter's death should be seen as a red flag signalling a growing onslaught against the country's journalists, as well as a reminder that South Africa's hard won media freedom, a pillar of its fledgling democracy, should "never be taken for granted".Venter was suspended from the SABC in 2016 for disagreeing with orders to not cover anti-government and anti-media censorship protests that were taking place outside the SABC's offices in Cape Town.She reported from the front lines in Gaza, Libya and Syria.Venter's father says she was committed to her job, and to "good journalism - journalism with integrity," to the point of obsession. But Venter's passion for her work allegedly came to play a role in her sudden death at the end of June 2017, aged 32.
BLF spokesperson Zanele Lwana dismissed such claims, telling Al Jazeera: "The BLF does not promote racism, intimidation, harassment, assault against anyone.