Photographer assaulted at Unisa

Cape Town - A photographer from Beeld newspaper was assaulted by Unisa security guards on Tuesday while investigating complaints about a stench in a campus building.

The security guard had earlier refused to grant Beeld's reporter, Alet Rademeyer, and the photographer, Craig Nieuwenhuizen, access to the Es'kia Mphahlele building.

When the guard walked to the main entrance of the building, Nieuwenhuizen and Rademeyer followed him. 

According to Rademeyer a second guard approached them, shouting that they should return to the gate. He shoved Nieuwenhuizen.

An argument ensued, after which Nieuwenhuizen and Rademeyer walked to the gate.

At the gate the guard grabbed Nieuwenhuizen by the throat. Two or three more guards started to hit the photographer.

Nieuwenhuizen took pepper spray from his pocket to ward of the attackers. According to Rademeyer he fell to the ground while the guards continued kicking him and ignoring her pleas for them to stop.

Peet Kruger, editor of Beeld, said in response to the assault that "thuggery of this sort is unacceptable and flies in the face of democracy".

"The journalists were at a building at a public institution.

"The role of journalists is to tell the story of all South Africans so that ordinary people can be heard and problems can be highlighted in the hope that people with the proper authority can fix them.

"In this case the story was about the unpleasant working conditions of Unisa staff after the department of labour had ordered the air conditioning to be shut off.

"Assault and violence is not the way to handle investigations and debate."

Unisa spokesperson Doreen Gough said they deeply regret the incident.

"We’ve always had a good relationship with Beeld and the other photographers. We are investigating the incident," she said.

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