Sanef concerned about police visits

2013-08-22 23:11
(File, supplied)

(File, supplied)

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Johannesburg - An unannounced visit by police to the offices of a Johannesburg newspaper was deeply concerning, the SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) said on Thursday.

Police visited the offices of The Star newspaper on Wednesday, Sanef said in a statement.

"During the visit by detectives of the Hillbrow police station, The Star's editor Makhudu Sefara was asked to provide a warning statement to the police about the newspaper's 'battle with Pikitup'."

Sefara "rightfully" declined to co-operate and referred the detectives to the newspaper's lawyers.

Sanef said The Star had been reporting on allegations of corruption and fraud within Pikitup, the City of Johannesburg's waste management company.

The newspaper recently published several reports about irregularities at Pikitup based on a confidential report seen by its reporters.

The Sunday Times was also visited unannounced last week, with the newspaper's lawyer called to a meeting, with the police leaving after a "robust discussion".

"Senior Sunday Times staff experienced the unannounced visit as intimidatory and inappropriate," Sanef said.

"Police returned by appointment on Monday to take a statement in which the Sunday Times stated that the report was legally acquired and would not be surrendered."

Sanef said it was Pikitup's constitutional right to take lawful action if it felt it had been wronged.

However, it was also the public's right to know if public money had been squandered by Pikitup with it being the media's duty and right to expose such misappropriation.

"The Saps cannot arrive unannounced at a newspaper's office and demand warning statements from journalists without even informing the editor about the basis of the complaint," Sanef said.

"The only possible interpretation of this visit is that it was an attempt to intimidate The Star and its reporters."

Sanef said it would express its concerns about police conduct with the office of national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega.

Read more on:    sanef  |  pikitup  |  johannesburg  |  media

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