The SA National Editors' Forum expresses its deep alarm at
what appeared to be an assassination attempt on Estee Booyens, editor
of the Afrikaans daily tabloid, Noord-Son, during the early hours of
August 29, according to a media release.
Estee and her husband, photographer David Wessels, were awakened at 1.30 am by a shot fired through the window of their farm home at Muldersdrift which slammed into Estee's pillow. Her husband leaped out of bed and struck out at the armed man, his fist smashing the window and knocking the man unconscious.
An accomplice picked up the stunned man's pistol and fired as the two ran from the bedroom to the less exposed kitchen from where they phoned for help. The second shot passed close to Estee's cheek. David threw cups, plates and other kitchen utensils at the kitchen glass door and it appears that the assailants thought it was pistol fire and disappeared.
Suspicion that the motive was either assassination or a death threat was aroused when the men made no attempt to enter the house or take anything. There was a car in the driveway and goods in boxes on the stoep. These were left untouched.
Since then Media24, publishers of Noord-Son, have hired bodyguards for her, arranged for accommodation in a "safe house" and called in a private detective to investigate.
The following night a guard at the house saw two strange men walking around the property.
Noord-Son is a combative tabloid and has launched strong attacks on aspects of government policy, police inefficiency, the crime rate, violence and attacks on children.
Sanef has been appalled at the attempt on the life of exiled Zimbabwean editor Abel Mutsakani who writes for the online service, ZimOnline, in Johannesburg on July 23 when he was shot and critically wounded.
Sanef is concerned that anger at media exposes which have erupted in some quarters could be taken to extremes. Though it has no evidence that this was an assassination attempt, the fact that Media24 has taken precautions based on that assumption, requires the media industry to sound a stern warning against violent acts against journalists. Sanef also calls on the police to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Issued by: SA National Editors' Forum (SANEF)
September 04, 2007
For Comment Contact:
SANEF Chairperson: Jovial Rantao on 082 446 6008
SANEF Media Freedom Sub-Committee Chairperson: Raymond Louw on 011 646 8790 / 082 446 5155