Icasa upholds SAPS complaint

2014-04-25 21:03
(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

(Nielen de Klerk, News24)

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Johannesburg - A complaint by the SAPS regarding a DA election advert that contains a photo of a police officer shooting rubber bullets, was upheld the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) said on Friday.

"The election period tends to bring about a lot of volatility. The police should not be seen as a threat to the community," chairperson of Icasa's complaints and compliance committee Wandile Tutani said in Johannesburg.

"The offending part of the advert [must] be excised. That is our decision."

The DA's Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane, who was present at the ruling, disagreed, stating it was not right that conversation and commentary be restrained.

"It's an injustice and in fact we will be taking this decision under review at the high court."

On Thursday, the committee heard a complaint by the police against the DA's election advert. The SA Police Service contended the advert would incite violence against the police.

The televised advert shows Maimane standing in front of a mirror talking about the current state of the country. At one point he states that "the police are killing our people". This is accompanied by a photo of a police officer firing rubber bullets at two unarmed people.

Nick Ferreira, for the DA, told the committee on Thursday that the photograph was authentic and taken in Bekkersdal, Westonaria, in March.

Political criticism

The DA argued the advertisement was a form of political criticism aimed at the current government.

"Look at what those in power have allowed the police service to become," Ferreira said.

"[The current national government] allowed the police service to become brutal and violent. It has allowed for an upsurge in police brutality."

There were no closing arguments as the commission, the DA and SAPS decided these would be submitted in writing by 15:00 on Friday.

The commission watched additional footage the DA provided, describing them as examples of police brutality.

The police argued that Maimane's statement in the advert would "invite violent acts against the members of the SAPS".

William Mokhari, for the police, said the DA would suffer no harm if it removed the photo and Maimane's line. He said it was important for the committee to consider how people would interpret the DA's message.

Maimane's statement would "inflame members of the public against the police", he told the hearing.

The advert was previously banned by the SABC after it was flighted on 8 and 9 April. The public broadcaster said it incited violence.

The DA laid a complaint with Icasa, and a public hearing was held. The DA and SABC came to an agreement on 16 April after which the broadcaster again aired the advert.

Read more on:    icasa  |  da  |  johannesburg  |  politics  |  media  |  elections 2014
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