I agree with most of what you said there, Mefiante, I agree that the argument made that it's a right to freedom of speech issue is an invalid argument and perhaps more an emotive argument than a logical one and I agree that the comments are often more interesting than the articles and I also agree about that it simply just sucks that this privilege to free exchange of ideas is now being limited and that it now becomes harder to challenge other's ideas.
But I do not agree that this is somehow politically motivated, rather I do think that they have valid reasons for closing the comments. I wrote my own article
on this issue in the opinion section where I've expressed my view on the matter.
Boogie, you can still submit whatever you like - so you can still post your opinion on other articles or other opinion pieces, they will still consider every article for publication.
They still get to decide whether your article will be published though and many of my own submissions never gets published, they also have also had double standards on what is acceptable for publication for a very long time - especially when it comes to religious views - they regularly publish the most ridiculous anti-Christian nonsense that's most of the time written just to provoke them, yet, any article on Islam or anything that remotely mentions allah will not get published, if an article of Islam do get published by chance, that article is normally taken down within the hour of it being published.
It is true that the News24 have been slime pit of bigots and trolls for a very long time and I even knew this when I went in, but like Mefiante feels, I too felt that the positives outweighed the negatives.
But ultimately you should have control over what you want to present to your readers and they are doing just that.
I just wish they would relax their (already low, yet totally arbitrary) standards over what gets published, the thing is if the editor/mod that handles your submission doesn't like what you have written, doesn't like you or is opposed to your opinion, your article will likely not get published.