The Forum for Black Journalists (FBJ) has lashed out at the
SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for finding against  its policy of refusing white journalists
admission to its activities, writes Phakamisa Ndzamela.


Katy Katopodis, news editor of Talk Radio 702 and 94.7
Highveld  Stereo, lodged a complaint with
the SAHRC after white journalists were excluded from an FBJ imbizo in February
which was due to be addressed by ANC President Jacob Zuma.

In its findings the SAHRC said the “policy by the FBJ of
restricting its membership on the basis of race, would not pass constitutional

 The finding recommended that the “FBJ should revisit and
amend its policies, particularly with regards to the provisions which relate to
its membership” adding that the “FBJ should desist from excluding membership to
its organisation on the sole basis of race”.

In responding to the finding, Abbey Makoe, political editor
of the SABC and interim chair of the FBJ, said the forum regarded the decision
by the SAHRC as a “judicial ambush”.

Makoe said the SAHRC’s “understanding of racism is dubious.
SAHRC has found us guilty of being black. We are pronounced guilty of being
black. No banning order will stop us.”

Chair of the SAHRC, Jody Kollapen said: “We recognise the
right for the FBJ to exist”. However he noted that the SAHRC was not convinced
that people should be excluded based on their race.

Katopodis said: “We welcome the fact that the commission has
recognised that we have absolutely no qualm with the formation or the existence
of an organisation such as the FBJ.

“We hope that organisations like the FBJ and others will
transform themselves and move forward. We’d like to all work together for the
advancement of journalism, irrespective of race.”

acknowledged that there were “serious challenges in some newsrooms across the
country regarding black journalists and we would like to be involved in helping
as far as possible where we can”. She said it would not be possible to sort out
the problems if people continued to be excluded based on their race.