16 October 2009
Unlit petrol bomb thrown into editor's home
(MISA/IFEX) - An unlit petrol bomb was thrown into the home of the editor of an online newspaper devoted to reporting on political matters in the town of Oudtshoorn and the Eden District Municipality. A warning note written in Afrikaans was also discovered. The note said, "You have been warned. Now you must bear the consequences. Just so you know, this is only the beginning." Drewan Baird is a journalist and the editor of Oudtshoorn Online, a popular cyber journal known for its no-holds-barred reporting and commentary on local issues and public representatives.
Baird said he and an associate were meeting in the study of his home when he heard a noise at around 9:00 p.m. They paid little attention, however, thinking the family's cat had knocked something over. When Baird's daughter, who had already gone to bed, called to say that there was something lying on the living room floor, he rushed to the adjacent room, where she handed him a bottle filled with a pinkish liquid. Baird said he identified the liquid as fuel and rushed outside, where he found an envelope on the porch containing the printed warning note.
Baird told one of the newspapers he suspected that the aggrieved party or parties might be responsible for the attack. "There seems little doubt that the attack is in answer to certain recent exclusive exposures and continued criticism. Yet I personally find it incredible that my journalism can be met with such a loathsome act as petrol-bombing," he added.
Police spokesman Louis Visser confirmed the incident, and said that the possibility that the attack was related to Baird's journalism was being probed. "But he writes so many things about people, we don't know where to start looking," Visser said.
Visser added that because the bomb had not been lit, the only criminal docket that could be opened was one of malicious damage to property. Outshoorn municipal manager Wessel Rabbets said he could not comment before the facts of the matter were communicated through official police channels.
Eden spokesman Kelvin Vollenhoven said he could not comment as it was a political matter.
Asked whether the attack had warned him off, Baird replied; "I will continue, but personal pressure to desist is strong."