Parliament’s ‘white shirt’ officers force journalist to delete pics

2015-03-11 15:04

Five members of the VIP protection services unit accosted me in front of Parliament at about 12.45pm today over photos that I had taken of public order policing vans parked outside the entrance.

They pushed me to the ground and a struggle ensued, in which they took my camera and attempted to delete the pictures.

I had taken photos of the eight vehicles, which were stationed next to Parliament’s entrance, where a few men in black trousers and white shirts were milling around.

When I was walking back to the media’s parliamentary offices at 100 Plein Street, I saw men in white shirts and black trousers standing under a police flag, and thought it would make for a great photo.

They did not agree.

I was on the other side of Plein Street. Two of the men crossed the road and asked me why I was taking photos. I told them that I was a journalist and a photo of people in white shirts and black pants would be newsworthy, especially if something should happen later.

Rather aggressively they wanted to know who gave me permission to take photos. They said I wasn’t allowed to take photos of them and had to delete them.

I refused to and maintained that, as a journalist, I had a right to take photos. They tried to grab my camera and I tried to protect it, almost as if it was a rugby ball in a maul.

In the process, they dragged me to the ground. There wasn’t a referee to award me a penalty because the maul had collapsed.

They took my camera but didn’t know how to delete the photos. They wanted to take me to their office, which they identified as the VIP security office.

I thought it would be better to avoid that situation, given that I still had to write a story about President Jacob Zuma’s question session in Parliament later today.

I also wanted to avoid losing all the photos on my memory card – especially the photos that I had taken of the vehicles in front of Parliament.

I deleted the photos, and they allowed me to go with just a scratch on the top of my right arm. My camera also seems fine.

A little while later a uniformed police officer came up to me. I was standing a few metres away, at the entrance of 100 Plein Street, smoking a cigarette. He handed me my sunglasses. They had landed on the pavement during the scuffle.

Sanef Condemns Thuggish Behaviour by Police at Parliament

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