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e.tv reports responsibly on abducted girls

29 July 2016

A story by e.tv’s primetime news deserves a GLAD1 for its excellent example of good practice when reporting on children, especially when covering sensitive topics such as the abduction of minors.

On 15 July 2016, e.tv reported on 16 girls who were abducted, forced into drugs and endured sexual abuse for nine months in Kempton Park Johannesburg. Some of the girls were kidnapped while others were lied to about possible employment opportunities. The footage shows the girls’ horrifying living conditions, some of the drugs that the police found on the property as well as blurred live images of the girls cramped outside the house. According to the report by Lenyaro Sello, the girls were rescued by the special intelligence unit, Hawks, together with the South African Police Services during a drug and trafficking operation bust. Four men have since been arrested in connection to these abductions.

We commend e.tv for its efforts to minimise harm to the children involved by hiding their identities while highlighting the issue of abduction. This kind of practice is in line with Media Monitoring Africa (MMA)’s Editorial Guidelines and Principles for Reporting on Children in the Media2 which state, “In all stories in which a child has been involved in a crime, either as a witness, victim or perpetrator, the identity of the child must be protected …” We also note the decision taken by e.tv to not interview the girls and to instead access both the Hawks and the police officers that had direct contact with them for more information. By doing this, the broadcasting station offered the necessary context whilst avoiding subjecting the child victims to secondary trauma by placing them in a position where they have to retell their experiences through a media interview.

We look forward to seeing more stories on children that are informative, uphold ethical reporting standards and place the best interest of the child at the forefront of e.tv’s news reporting.

By Phakamile Khumalo

1A GLAD refers to an article where the rights and welfare of children have been promoted
2http://mma-ecm.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/A5_MediaBooklet_Ed_GX_Final_24Apr-2014_FINALTOBEPRINTED.pdf