Related topics

Colleagues Join Family at Service for Slain Cameraman With PM-South Africa, Bjt

June 18, 1986

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Hundreds of friends and colleagues joined family members today at a memorial service for cameraman George De’Ath, the first journalist killed while covering the political turmoil that began 21 months ago.

De’Ath, a 34-year-old South African, died Saturday of head wounds suffered when he was slashed on the head June 10 by attackers wielding machetes during battles between black factions in the Crossroads settlement near Cape Town. Three other journalists were wounded that day.

An estimated 55,000 to 70,000 blacks were left homeless in fighting at Crossroads between attacking vigilantes and young anti-apartheid activists who were defending their neighborhoods. The militants accused the vigilantes of cooperating with the government, which has long wanted to bulldoze the settlement, in exchange for being allowed to remain.

Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who arranged a temporary truce at Crossroads, attended the memorial service for De’Ath at St. Columba’s Presbyterian Church in suburban Johannesburg. De’Ath’s body was cremated in Cape Town earlier in the day.

Also present was Terry Waite, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s special envoy, who is in South Africa to investigate the reported detention of churchmen under the nationwide state of emergency declared Thursday.

David Nicholas, an executive from Britain’s Independent Television News, said De’Ath’s death marked the first time in the network’s 31-year history that an Independent Television News journalist was killed while on assignment.

″It is a proper moment to remind those who order our lives that the journalists’ obligation to his audience is at least as binding as a doctor to his patient, a priest to his flock or a politician to his constituency,″ Nicholas said.

Referring to press restrictions imposed under the state of emergency, Nicholas said: ″It is timely, too, to remind those who exercise power at the center that the people whom we in the media serve are much smarter than they are - and smarter than we in the media are, too - and know when the wool is pulled over their eyes.

″They draw on their experience of life, and their knowledge of human character, to fill in the gaps and form their own conclusions when the flow of raw information is deliberately blocked,″ he said.

The Rev. Allan Maker, who presided at the memorial, said De’Ath knew he faced danger in Crossroads and on previous assignments in Lebanon, Zaire, and the Falkland Islands.

Maker acknowledged there might be some truth in the government’s claim that showing violence generates more violence, but added, ″By not showing the horrors of what is happening in our country, those renegades in power will be able to inflict more suffering on the people of this country.″

De’Ath and other journalists were trying to let people know what was happening in the hope that ″there will be an end to violence, of pain, and the coming of justice,″ Maker said.