[intro]The Publisher of The Journalist, Zubeida Jaffer has received a Media award for her fearless commitment to journalism and a free media.[/intro]

The Publisher of The Journalist has called for action to secure the release of close to 50 journalists who are jailed in Turkey.

Zubeida Jaffer was speaking after she received an award last week from The Turquoise Harmony Institute (THI), a Turkish civil society movement.

Jaffer received the THI’s 2015 Media award for “contributing to a better South Africa through fearless commitment to journalism, a free press and a media which can thrive under a democracy”.

In accepting the award Jaffer thanked THI for acknowledging her past work. She then directed her attention to the Minister of Police, Nkosinathi Nhleko, who was present at the awards function.

“Having being previously jailed by former Ministers of Police under apartheid, I am pleased to know that there are presently no journalists in jail in South Africa,” she said. “ I hope that this stays so.”

Turkey has the highest number of journalists in jail in the world.

Jaffer began her journalism career in the late seventies during the darkest days of South African society. Apartheid was at its most violent and Jaffer endured several stints in detention, during which she suffered torture at the hands of the feared security police.

During the 80s many journalists were detained, offices of alternative publications were firebombed and censorship was widespread. Many newspaper houses themselves practised racism, reserving top jobs for whites, carrying content aimed at a small segment of the population and in some cases, having separate amenities for different members of staff.

The THI was established in 2006 as an Interfaith Foundation and its stated goal is to promote dialogue and tolerance among people from different backgrounds.

The organisation has been hosting its Peace and Dialogue Award every year since 2007. These awards recognise individuals and organisations who have greatly contributed their time, effort, leadership and dedication to the cause of dialogue, peace and community service.

The Peace and Dialogue award recipients are identified through a consultation process in various categories such as Interfaith, Art, Media, Academia, Sports, Community Service, Human Rights and the prestigious Gulen Peace Award.
Jaffer said the award was not only for her personally but for other movers and shakers in the field of journalism.

“I enjoyed the evening very much and felt supported. In the end, as I stood there I felt that I was standing there on behalf of myself and so many others who have worked very hard as journalists in this country. So, this was bestowed on all those in the profession who are making huge efforts to be as fair as possible,” she said.

Previous recipients of the Media Award include: Peter James-Smith (2007), Dr Devi Moodley-Rajab (2009), the late Vuyo Mbuli (2011), Ashraf Garda (2012), South African National Editors Forum (2013), and Ubuntu Radio (2014).

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, current Chairperson of the African Union Commission and former South African Cabinet Minister received the 2015 Gulen Peace Award. Professor Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor of Wits University delivered the annual Ubuntu lecture.