Police threaten journalists at Bay TV

2013-06-08 10:46

Journalists and staff at Bay TV in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape were left traumatised after police allegedly intimidated and threatened them over footage they filmed during violent protests at Booysens Park last week.

Lungile Nduvane, deputy station manager at the community television station that has 36 000 viewers, claims police arrived at the station in Mount Road and demanded the footage, despite the fact that they had given them a copy the previous week.

Police wanted the original footage, which is central to their investigation into the violence - which has been linked to xenophobic attacks.

“They visited the station about four times during the course of Friday. We kept telling them we no longer had the copy. They intimidated us and threatened to arrest me and shut down the station.

“They had a warrant for search and seizure and demanded we hand over our memory cards so they can encrypt them,” said an angry and puzzled Nduvane.

He said that as the intimidation intensified he eventually succumbed and handed over the memory cards to two police officers.

The footage, he says, contained visuals from clashes between Booysens Park residents and Somali shop owners.

“This is not a good thing to happen in this day and age, where journalists are threatened for doing their job. What concerns me is that our sources now might feel compromised because of this,” he said.

During the clashes, which lasted for three days, one Somali shop owner was killed, three shops burnt to the ground and 19 looted - with 21 people being arrested for possession of stolen property, resisting arrest and malicious damage to property.

Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Miranda Mills denied that the police intimidated Bay TV staff.

“We had a warrant. There was no intimidation or threats, police were simply doing their job. We don’t see any problem with that,” Mills said.

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