"Every MP who presses the green button to vote 'yes' for the protection of state information bill will at that moment take personal responsibility for the first piece of legislation since the end of apartheid that dismantles an aspect of our democracy - a betrayal that will haunt them forever." So read a statement by the National Editors' Forum in the pages of several newspapers on Black Tuesday.
It's been a long time since a piece of legislation has caused such an uproar on South African soil. Some have even called it a law that belongs in the Apartheid era.
And on Tuesday, as hundreds, if not thousands, of demonstrators were making themselves seen and heard across the country, there was a palpable fear that our democracy itself is under threat.
Government seems to be arguing that the protestors represent merely a small portion of a particular sector of the populace. I heard a commentator on news radio say today - and I paraphrase - that "most of the country is fully in support of this bill". I find that unlikely.
The more realistic scenario is that this bill adversely affects the powerless - the poor; civic organisations; activists, even - because it cuts off from them the very currency of civic empowerment: Information.
Since first it was proposed, the bill has undergone several changes - concessions that the ANC has supposedly made. But a few key issues remain, and are apparently unacceptable to the press (as the government would have us believe).
Standing at the protest on Tuesday, I was moved by how diverse the crowd of protesters was. A broad cross-section - black and white, poor and well-off - is rare at protests in South Africa, because most protest or strike issues are still largely economically-driven. A press colleague remarked that even the suburban emo kids had seemingly found something to be vocal about. Random people took turns at the front, yelling their encouragement and expressing their anger at the bill, government and the eroding of their freedom.
Even as the bill passed through the house, there remained a feeling outside that this fight is not over. At least the major opposition party has vowed to take the issue to constitutional court. Most of us hope they will show such resolve when the time comes.
It is hard to argue that the bill is not counter to democracy, when most rational concepts of democracy insist that Freedom of Information - or The Right To Know - is a pillar of a free society. Attacking it will result in the destabilisation of the entire structure of free society. And that is unacceptable.