Sanef condemns ‘security crackdown’ at Parliament

2017-02-11 15:45
Police outside Parliament during Sona 2017. (Mahlatse Gallens, News24)

Police outside Parliament during Sona 2017. (Mahlatse Gallens, News24)

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Cape Town – The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) on Saturday said it was deeply concerned by the security crackdown on the media during the State of the Nation Address this week.

Some journalists were prevented from doing their jobs as events unfolded, including during the dramatic ejection of parliamentarians, said deputy chairperson Katy Katopodis during a briefing in Cape Town.

"Civilian clothed police officials prevented camera persons and journalists from freely moving through parliamentary corridors," she said.

Riot police blocked off a road that journalists needed to use to return to their offices and makeshift studios, ignoring their shouts to be let through.

Police also prevented some photographers from capturing scenes in the precinct.

She said there was a heavy presence of the SA Police Service, the SA National Defence Force and the State Security Agency.

"We are clearly seeing an increase in security since 2015, and seeing it get worse and worse every year."

Secretary to Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana had told journalists a week earlier that there was no foundation to misgivings about the securatisation of Parliament. 

Katopodis said parliamentary officials had also dismissed concerns by the Press Gallery Association and Sanef.

They had promised there would not be any restrictions on journalists doing their jobs.

Instead, the mood at Parliament had been one of fear and intimidation, said Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Gallens.

She said this was despite written correspondence and meetings with parliamentary officials beforehand. 

"We don’t know what next year will bring, and what the rest of the parliamentary calendar will bring," added Katopodis.

Sanef called on Parliament’s political and administrative leadership to address the progressive heightening of security measures and securitisation.

Gallens said they would set up meetings with parliamentary and police officials in good faith.

She said Sanef’s concerns pointed to a broader movement of returning to a "People’s Parliament", one that was open and approachable.

Read more on:    parliament  |  sanef  |  cape town  |  sona 2017

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