Newspapers defy Nkandla pictures order

2013-11-22 10:20
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Pictures the state doesn't want you to see

Ministers in the security cluster have said South African media should stop publishing images of President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla home. See the pictures here.

Cape Town - National newspapers published photographs of President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead on Friday, despite a warning that it is illegal to do so.

On Thursday, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele said Zuma's KwaZulu-Natal residence was considered a national key point, and warned the media that the publication of pictures of upgrades was a security breach under the National Key Points Act.

"It is important that also to just send a caution that we have got laws - yes, some of them we will have to amend - but the continuing of flaunting of these pictures in a place which has been declared by the minister of police as a national key point is also not correct. It is a breach of law," Sapa quoted him as saying.


Cwele was addressing a post-Cabinet briefing where Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's provisional report into the security upgrades to Zuma's residence was discussed.

"At this stage we are just appealing. We are appealing to the South African public. It is not done anywhere, no country does this. We have not seen the images of the White House showing where the security features are. It is not done in any democracy, in any country... Let's respect the laws at the moment. We are not supposed to do what we are seeing in the media at this stage," Cwele said.

However, the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) announced on Thursday that the media will continue to publish pictures of Zuma's Nkandla homestead.

"We firmly believe there is immense public interest in doing so," Sanef said, pointing out that the purpose of the act is to protect security measures from national key points from being revealed, and it would not undermine Zuma's security by publishing pictures.

"In this case, it unfortunately seems that the ministers are using security laws to avoid accounting to the public on the Nkandla upgrades," Sanef said.

Photographs of other national key points, such as Parliament and the Union Buildings, are published regularly, Sanef pointed out.


Newspapers defied Cwele's warning, publishing images of Nkandla on their front pages. "Look Away" What ministers don't want you to see" was The Star's headline, while The Times defiantly stated: "So, arrest us". The Cape Times displayed "The picture the state does not want you to see" and The Cape Argus ran a similar headline over a picture of Zuma's homestead. Afrikaans newspapers also ran similar headlines, with Die Burger stating: "Dit mag jy NIE sien nie" and Beeld proudly displaying "Die verbode foto".

Social media users also responded to Cwele's warning, with many updating their Facebook cover photos to display an image of Zuma's Nkandla residence. Twitter users also responded, with activist Zackie Achmat saying: "Break unjust laws. Share #Nkandla photo." Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos tweeted that "if it's illegal to publish pictures of Nkandla, the live broadcast of opening of Parliament.. will have to be banned".

Meanwhile, writer Tom Eaton tweeted: "Poor Zuma. No more wide-angle selfies on his stoep at #Nkandla."

Read more on:    sanef  |  jacob zuma  |  siyabonga cwele  |  security  |  nkandla upgrade  |  government spending

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