Media access to Waterkloof base limited

2014-11-16 14:09
Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble of the collapsed building in the days after the 12 September incident. (File, Sunday Alamba, AP)

Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble of the collapsed building in the days after the 12 September incident. (File, Sunday Alamba, AP)

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Johannesburg - With the exception of the SABC, media houses were not granted access to the tarmac of the Waterkloof air force base on Sunday for the arrival of the remains of 74 South Africans killed in the Nigeria building collapse.

"The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) could not accommodate all the media houses," said Phumla Williams, speaking on behalf of the interministerial task team on Nigeria.

"A compromise was made to allow one [media house/broadcaster] who would in turn provide the feed to other media houses."

Williams said the lack of space had even limited the number of invited guests. She added that the SANDF was very strict with security.

The SABC were allowed on to the runway ahead of the landing. Other journalists were kept in the officers' mess, a few kilometres from the base.

More than 20 local and international journalists had been at the officers' mess since 6am where they were supposed to collect accreditation for the day's proceedings.

Journalists were told shuttle buses would transport them to the base but on two occasions they boarded the buses only to be told to alight.

They were eventually taken to the base just after noon.

A total of 116 people, 81 of them South Africans, died on September 12, when a guest house belonging to the Synagogue Church Of All Nations in Lagos -- headed by preacher TB Joshua -- collapsed.

Twenty-six injured South Africans returned a month ago. Twenty of them had since been discharged from hospitals and reunited with their families.

Government said it would host a formal reception ceremony at the site on Sunday that would be broadcast on TV. The bodies would then be transferred to various provincial mortuaries before private funerals were arranged.

Read more on:    jeff radebe  |  tb joshua  |  pretoria  |  nigeria  |  nigeria building collapse

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