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South Africa: New “Stalking” Bill Criticized as Potential Danger to Freedom of Expression

(Oct. 30, 2009) It was reported on October 26, 2009, that the South African Cabinet approved and is gearing up to propose to parliament the Protection of Harassment Bill, which, if passed, will protect those individual victims of stalking who are not protected under the Domestic Violence Act. (Chantelle Benjamin, New 'Stalking' Bill Worries Media, BUSINESSDAY, Oct. 26, 2009, available at

The bill is under criticism for the negative impact it may have on journalists' ability to do their work. The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) has submitted a complaint to the South African Law Reform Commission in which it expressed concern over the possible unintended effects the bill could have in preventing journalists from doing in-depth investigations, which, according to one SANEF member, may involve “following, watching, pursuing or accosting a person.” Citing a similar United Kingdom act, SANEF noted that in the absence of an express media exception, which the bill does not include in its current form, journalists may be subject to prosecution simply for doing their work. (Id.)