Journalist escapes from gunman

2010-08-07 14:32

Johannesburg - A City Press journalist escaped an attack by an armed man at his home in Mpumalanga, he said on Saturday.

The publication's Mpumalanga bureau chief Sizwe Sama Yende said he arrived at his Nelspruit home at midnight on Friday when an armed man pounced on him.

"I opened the gate and I entered [the home]. As soon as I turned to close the sliding door this man was walking fast toward the door.

"He said 'stop what you're doing don't close the door'," Sama Yende told Sapa.

Sama Yende managed to close the door and lift the handle to lock it. He then quickly slipped into a bedroom nearby.

He called out to his wife and went to activate the security alarm.

The man was trying to open the door but fled when the alarm went off.

Sama Yende had been meeting a source for a story before the incident occurred.

He said it was unclear whether the attack was related to work.

"Its difficult to say [whether it was work-related]. When I was speaking to my wife, she made a point that this person was alone.

"If it was somebody who wanted to steal something like the microwave or the television, there would have been more of them."

Sama Yende said he did not want to speculate on the motive for the attempted attack.

He said, however, that the "environment" in the province was not "conducive" to the practice of journalism.

"All I can tell you is that... as far as I'm concerned the environment is not conducive to the practice of journalism in Mpumalanga at the moment," he said, adding that sources feared talking to reporters in the light of day.

"I have to meet my sources late at night. Sources are not using their usual numbers because they believe they are being tracked."

Sama Yende had reported the matter to police. A police spokesperson for the province was not immediately available to comment.

Sunday Times journalist Mzilikazi Wa Afrika was arrested in Rosebank this week on charges of forgery and uttering and was released on R5000 bail at the Nelspruit Magistrate's Court on Friday.

Reports had suggested Wa Afrika's arrest could be related to his being in possession of a resignation letter purportedly signed by the province's premier David Mabuza, but which the presidency declared a fake.

He also co-wrote an article last Sunday on a R500m lease agreement for new police headquarters in Pretoria, which police commissioner General Bheki Cele allegedly signed without it going out to tender.