THE SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) has pledged its full support for Mercury news editor Philani Makhanya, who has lodged a complaint of intimidation against Durban millionaire and former metro policeman S'bu Mpisane, following perceived threats he made relating to an investigation the newspaper is conducting, according to a report in The Mercury.

Sanef said it was interesting that the politically connected, high-spending businessman was a friend of national police commissioner Bheki Cele.

"As Angela Quintal, editor of The Mercury, says in her supporting affidavit, the newspaper, like all media, has a special duty to uphold the principle of freedom of expression and to eliminate dishonesty, news suppression and censorship."

After allegedly threatening Makhanya during a phone call, Mpisane referred to his relationship with Cele and said that "Bheki will defend me even if I go to jail".

Cele told The Mercury he would not condone illegal activity, including from those he knew, if they had transgressed the law. He distanced himself from the threats Mpisane allegedly made.

Police are investigating the complaint.

Sanef said it was also outraged at reports that journalists in Mpumalanga were on a hit list targeting corruption-busters in the province.

"So far two provincial government officials said to have been on the list have been murdered. Samuel Mpatlanyane, Mpumalanga's sports and culture department head of communications, was shot dead by assassins during the night last week.

"Vusi Shongwe, the province's sports and culture MEC, has blamed the murder on the same people who killed Mbombela municipality speaker Jimmy Mohlala. Mohlala was similarly executed at home in front of his son last January."

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