Journalists attacked by mob during slain activist's funeral

2016-04-03 18:00
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Mbizana - Two of the Citizen newspaper's journalists were violently attacked by an angry mob at the funeral of anti-mining activist Sikhosiphi Rhadebe who was shot dead two weeks ago at his home in Xolobeni, near Mbizana in the Eastern Cape.

According to the daily newspaper, photojournalist Nigel Sibanda, reporter Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni and two activists were attacked by a group of men who beat them with knobkerries, the blunt end of a machete as well as their bare hands.

"We are outraged by the brutal attack on our journalists who were beaten up for doing their job," Citizen Editor Steven Motale said.

"The harassment and violence against journalists is a deplorable act that has no place in any democracy."

Sibanda and Hlatshaneni were in the province to report on Rhadebe's funeral.

Rhadebe was shot multiple times two weeks ago, allegedly by hitmen. He was one of the people in Xolobeni opposed to the mining of titanium-rich sand dunes in the area by Australian mining company Mineral Resources Limited (MRL).

The group had reportedly moved from the funeral to capture images of the sand dunes when they were approached by the angry mob.

Sibanda, who was taking pictures, along with one of the activists were attacked by the angry group. The two were left critically injured.

Hlatshaneni, who was in their car, was intimidated and forced out of the car and hit on her head and shoulder with a spade and asked what she was doing there, the publication reported.

Motale said members of the SA Police Service were on the scene when the attack took place, but failed to protect the four.

"Apart from failing to halt the attacks, they also did not arrest the mob that carried out the attacks.

"Even worse is the confiscation of the equipment of the journalists including a camera by the police," Motale.

He said the police had even forced one of the journalists, who had escaped, to go back and face the mob.

"This is criminal on the part of the police whose mandate is to uphold the law and to protect all South Africans, including journalists."

Motale vowed to take the matter up with the SAPS.

Eastern Cape police spokesperson Sibongile Soci confirmed that an assault and robbery case had been opened, but denied Motale's claims.

"Allegations that SAPS members attacked the two, watched while they were attacked and took away their equipment are not true," she said.

Read more on:    east london  |  media

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