Gupta-owned television news station ANN7 fired five more journalists on Tuesday. They had taken part in protests and other demonstrations in solidarity with eight colleagues who were dismissed in June.
The South African National Editors’ Forum on Wednesday expressed its concern over the latest round of firings.
“We are concerned with what appears to be a continued trend by some media houses to violate media freedoms and contravene labour laws,” it said in a statement.
The eight journalists, who were fired in June, were part of a larger pool of employees who had objected to being named as parties in a company letter addressed to the country’s four major banks, after they stopped doing business with the broadcaster’s owners, Oakbay Holdings.
Twelve other staff members were handed final written warnings and 11 were served with warnings.
They had resisted attending a meeting which was to be addressed by ANC Youth League president Collen Maine.
According to them, they felt it was inappropriate to drag them into the company’s corporate affairs and political battles.
“We condemn this latest action by the management of ANN7, which comes in the wake of a series of well documented and unfortunate episodes at the SABC which saw journalists who challenged censorship at the public broadcaster being victimised,” Sanef said.
The division between the corporate and editorial sides of journalism was sacrosanct, it said.
“Journalists should also understand that they need to remain impartial and refrain from taking political sides to protect their credibility.”
Sanef would ask for a meeting with ANN7’s editor-in-chief, Moegsien Williams.
“We are now exploring other legal options as part of a plan to help the dismissed journalists, as we seek to protect those who continue to work in hostile environments,” the forum said.