Police treatment of SA journo outrageous – editor

2010-08-04 11:45

 Arrested journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika has been treated “outrageously” by the police, says Sunday Times editor Ray Hartley.

Wa Afrika was arrested this morning at the Avusa building in Rosebank, Johannesburg, on charges of fraud and defeating the ends of justice.

Some witnesses say he was manhandled by the police.

Among those is Japhet Ncube, City Press executive editor, who was attending a meeting of the South African National Editors’ Forum on the premises to discuss a proposed media tribunal.

“He came down the escalators and was suddenly accosted by men in plainclothes who showed him their badges and identified themselves as policemen. The men then took him outside the building, pushing him Zimbabwe-style,” says Ncube.

Police shouted at the media not to take photographs.

Says Hartley: “There were Hawks members everywhere. That’s what gave me the impression that something very serious was going on.

“It seems that they arrested him on the basis of some very spurious allegations relating to a story he wrote about Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza.”

Hartley says that it is very conspicuous that Wa Afrika should be arrested in the way he was after he had co-written a story about police commissioner Bheki Cele this past Sunday.

Imminent trouble
Wa Afrika posted two updates yesterday on social networking website Facebook indicating that he may have been aware of the imminent trouble facing him.

The first read: “For the record: some small-town journalists and corrupt politicians from Mpumalanga are busy spreading rumours that I have been arrested – I am well, alive and at work.”

The second update read: “I am the native who causes all the troubles as a journalist never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth as it was hell. They claim that I have a classified document or seen it, maybe I have it somewhere.”

Musa Zondi, spokesperson of the Hawks, said he was not aware of any manhandling and there had only been a “required number” of police officers at the arrest.

As to how much that required number was, Zondi would not say.

Wa Afrika was taken to a prison in Mpumalanga and was expected to appear in court by Friday, Zondi said.

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