Media lobby group slams police
Johannesburg - Police do not know and understand their own regulations, the Professional Journalists' Association, ProJourn, said on Saturday.
The association was responding to an attack on a Pretoria News photographer, Masi Losi, on Friday by police when he took pictures of them arresting a suspected thief.
"This incident serves as a painful reminder that the police do not understand their own regulations (to whit, Standing Order 156) in this regard, let alone the law governing media coverage of crime," ProJourn said in a statement.
The association said what made the incident even more unfortunate was that it came in the wake of a week of attacks on and intimidation of journalists in Egypt, where civil unrest broke out.
It further said it was unacceptable that the incident happened within months of discussions with the police on the issue of police obstructing journalists in performing their duties.
"It is not acceptable that, within months of serious discussions between the media and the SAP (SA Police) on this exact issue, members of the SAP yet again try to obstruct journalists in the course of carrying out their duties.
"Commitments have been made by senior police officials that they will stop incidents of this sort, and we can only believe, given these events, that these commitments have been lightly made and not followed through."
ProJourn welcomed Gauteng provincial police commissioner, Mzwandile Petros' apology to Pretoria News. It also called on him to make sure the matter was is investigated swiftly.
Losi has laid charges against the policemen who attacked him.
According to Standing Order 156 of the Police regulations, police may under no circumstances, verbally or physically, abuse journalists and no cameras or any other equipment may be seized, unless it is to be an exhibit in court.
Police may also not wilfully damage the camera, film or recording or other equipment of a journalist.