Soweto riots: Journalist in ICU, another harassed by cops

2015-01-23 14:21

Two journalists have become victims of the Soweto riots – one is in ICU after protesters threw a rock at him, and the other was forced by police officers to delete photos of the looting.

The journalists were both covering the violence that has broken out against foreigners in Soweto.

Eyewitness News reporter Leeto Khoza was hit on the head with a rock while covering the unrest. Khoza is in intensive care in hospital.

“As protesters were throwing rocks at police and shop owners, they turned their attention on journalists, claiming they would reveal their identities,” the South African National Editors’ Forum said today.

“Khoza was hit on the head with a rock and lost consciousness for some time. He is still in hospital receiving intensive care,” Sanef said.

Reporter Mpho Raborife was forced by three police officers, not in uniform, to delete cellphone pictures taken yesterday outside a shop owned by a Somalian.

The editors have also condemned the police’s behaviour.

“Sanef is perturbed by these actions that are in contravention of police standing orders, which prohibit police officers from deleting journalists’ pictures at crime scenes. Particularly as it comes despite promises by senior police officers, including the national commissioner, that such illegal behaviour would be stopped.”

Raborife was driving to work when she passed three Somali-owned shops.

Three marked police vehicles were parked outside. Two men were loading items, including packs of cold drinks, into a white van.

She pulled over, put on her hazard lights and ran to the area to take several photos. Afterwards she got back into her car and drove for about 700m, before being flagged down by police.

They forced her to delete the photos on her cellphone, even though she showed them her press card indicating that she was a reporter.

They gave back her phone and her press card after she deleted the photographs.

A police officer took down Raborife’s details, and another photographed her car.

“Sanef calls on the public to respect the right of journalists to do their work and to actually protect them against those who may not wish for the truth to be known.”

Sanef also called on community leaders to inculcate understanding of the role of the media within their communities.

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