News24 reporters assaulted, intimidated by cops during Tshwane unrest

2016-06-22 16:42

Pretoria – Two News24 journalists covering protests in Ga-Rankuwa in Pretoria were assaulted and intimidated by police officers on Wednesday afternoon.
The reporters were driving behind two flying squad cars which led them to a large group at a Shoprite U Save in Zone 6.

News24 reporter Jeff Wicks said that when they approached the group officers briefly interacted with the crowd before they opened fire at them with rubber bullets.  

“I was obviously out of the car before I could even video this.  I filmed one policeman shoot at the crowd, and the crowd then running away, when his colleague hit me from the left and manhandled me and tried to sweep me off my feet by kicking my leg," he said.  

“He stripped me of my phone.  I asked repeatedly what the problem was and he took my phone away from me. Him and his colleague crowded around me and started saying I need to delete the footage and they did their best to delete it."

Senior officer ‘didn’t intervene’

The officers eventually returned the phone.

Wicks said he then took a photo of an officer who had refused to give him his name.  

“He got out of the car and took my phone and tried to delete his photo… all this happened while there was a senior officer [who] refused to intervene. Only when other officers arrived did the senior officer inform the other officer that I had in fact done nothing wrong.”

News24 reporter Karabo Ngoepe said while he was shooting a video around the same time, a woman colonel took away his phone.

“She then asked me who I was. I said I'm a journalist from News24. She then apologised and returned my phone. Shortly afterwards she made a call to which she took my phone again. She demanded to see my press card and I showed it to her,” Ngoepe said.  

“I managed to get it back when it was ringing and then I went to Jeff's side where he was arguing with the cop.

“Jeff tried to reason with him and explain that he can take pictures and videos in public. The officer said he didn't want his picture taken and wanted to delete it."

Case opened against cops

Ngoepe said Warrant Officer Mathews Nkoadi arrived on the scene and tried to reason with the officer.

“He was not having any of it and said he would only return the phone if the picture was deleted. Nkoadi said we must delete it and go open a case at the police station.”

Ngoepe said that after the picture was deleted the officer then came to their car and took pictures of Wicks and the vehicle's license disc and registration.

“He said he knew how we operate and he would deal with us. We then left the area to go cover other areas.”

Wicks and Ngoepe opened a case of assault and intimidation.

The reporters weren't the only ones to open cases against the police. Just as Ngoepe and Wicks were speaking to police, an off-duty officer walked into the station to open his own case of assault against other police officers.

In a separate incident, SAfm tweeted that an SABC journalist had been attacked and robbed of his belongings by protesters in Mabopane, north of Pretoria.

Read more on:    police  |  pretoria  |  protests

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