Journos arrested for ‘visiting’ Sheryl Cwele

2014-11-20 17:07

Two Sunday Times journalists arrested after allegedly claiming to be relatives of an inmate were visiting convicted drug trafficker Sheryl Cwele.

Taschica Pillay and Suthentira Govender were arrested at Durban’s Westville Prison over the weekend after they allegedly claimed to be relatives of an inmate, said correctional services today.

“The two journalists, whose names and institution will not be named and shamed at this stage, pretended to be relatives of the inmate and were caught conducting interviews with an offender,” said the department.

The Sunday Times said the two journalists were “arrested and harassed by prison officials who were miffed by a breach of protocol” after they had visited Cwele.

“The two presented their identity documents at the prison and requested to see Cwele, who was welcoming but declined to be interviewed at present. After a brief discussion, the journalists left the prison.”

They were detained by prison officials for five hours without access to their lawyers, before being handed to the police.

The journalists were released on R500 police bail each and ordered to appear in the Pinetown Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

“Our journalists did not disguise themselves or misrepresent their identities to prison authorities, and they identified themselves as Sunday Times journalists to Cwele,” said the Sunday Times.

Police spokesperson Major Thulani Zwane confirmed the arrest of the two journalists.

“They did not disclose to correctional service officials that they were journalists and had entered the correctional service under false pretences to seek an interview with a convicted person.”

According to the newspaper the two journalists appeared in court, but the prosecutor did not place the matter on the roll.

Sunday Times editor Phylicia Oppelt said: “Our journalists are guilty of none of these breaches. Our journalists were bullied, intimidated and harassed out of all proportion to their so-called offence. We are considering pressing charges for wrongful arrest.”

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