Grip on cops tightens

2012-07-07 20:21

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa muzzled the SAPS following a series of embarrassing leaks and contradictory statements at media briefings.

All SAPS divisions and provinces have to get permission from Mthethwa’s office if they want to hold any kind of media briefing.

They will, however, still be allowed to continue issuing generic statements to the media without first clearing them with Mthethwa.

Earlier this week it was reported detectives from crime intelligence had been ordered to sign a confidentiality pledge on Mthethwa’s instruction, a clear response to leaks in the unit which saw Major-General Richard Mdluli removed amid allegations he abused funds.

The gagging order – which City Press has seen – was issued on Mthethwa’s instruction by then acting national commissioner, Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi and transmitted throughout the policing system.

In it Mthethwa “directed’’ that all “media communication engagement activities that are contemplated at all spheres of the police establishment be sanctioned by his office... Permission should be sought for participation in news gathering platforms.”

Mthethwa’s spokesperson, Zweli Mnisi, claimed the directive had been issued “mistakenly’’ and had been rescinded.

He said the Mkhwanazi communiqué had been issued specifically for a single press briefing around the SAPS detective programme and had been “generalised mistakenly’’.

“In our meeting with (Mkhwanazi) we asked it be corrected, which was agreed to by General Mkhwanazi,” Mnisi said.

“Since the clarification, everybody is clear when it comes to different media and communication protocols,’’ Mnisi said.

Asked for a copy of the communiqué carrying the new instruction and the “clarification”, Mnisi refused, saying City Press should “check with your sources’’.

However, SAPS officials and communications officers in provinces said the order pertaining to clearance for holding a press conference had not been rescinded, though generic press statements are allowed.

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