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South Africa Orders 2 Australian Journalists to Leave

May 7, 1987

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ South Africa on Wednesday ordered two Australian journalists to leave the country on grounds their reporting was distorted.

The independent South African Press Association identified the two as Richard Carleton and Jennifer Ainge of Australian Broadcasting Corp. and quoted Home Affairs Director General Gerrie van Zyl as saying they had prepared ″reports containing gross untruths about South Africa.″

The reporters could not immediately be reached for comment. Later, a source who spoke on condition of anonymity said they had flown to Harare, capital of neighboring Zimbabwe.

The government-run South African Broadcasting Corp. said it had refused to relay a video report by Carleton for Australia’s Channel 2 Wednesday morning after he ″totally exceeded the limits of freedom of expression″ in an introduction prepared for a panel discussion.

SABC Director General Riaan Ecksteen said in a statement read on evening newscasts that SABC has made its satellite relay facilities available to foreign TV reporters since 1976. He said it has relayed stories critical of South Africa because ″opinions were based on fact.″

Carleton’s report, Ecksteen said, ″was riddled with blatant untruths through which he tried to create a false image of South Africa and its people.″

Ecksteen quoted Carleton as saying of Wednesday’s elections for the white chamber of the tricameral Parliament: ″The choice they’re (voters) being offered - the right, the far right and the extreme right.″

Ecksteen said Carleton reported about Soweto, the black township of more than 2 million outside Johannesburg: ″In Soweto, it is immensely violent, with police and army shooting almost at random. .. Soweto is a sealed-off township and there, police and army, answerable to no one, are roaming at will.″

Veteran foreign TV reporters in Johannesburg said it was the first time that SABC has refused to relay a foreign television report, although networks have often been called in by government officials and asked to justify their stories.

South Africa’s white-led government has repeatedly accused foreign journalists of one-sided reporting in favor of militants among the black majority. Officials have said foreign reporting, particularly TV accounts emphasizing violence during more than two years of anti-apartheid protests, helped to stir unrest in the country.

Censorship rules imposed under a state of emergency nearly a year ago ban or restrict reporting about unrest, security force actions, treatment of detainees, most forms of peaceful protest and a broad range of statements the government considers subversive.

Supreme Court benches in Natal Province recently struck down important parts of the censorship rules, but the government contends that they remain in force pending an appeal.

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