Sanef condemns continued harassment of journalists

2015-04-22 19:31
Riah Phiyega (Picture: AP)

Riah Phiyega (Picture: AP)

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Cape Town - National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega must instruct her officers not to harass journalists carrying out their duties in the field, the SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) said on Wednesday.

Sanef’s Adriaan Basson said they were extremely concerned that police, metro police and security officers continued to force journalists to delete pictures from their cameras and cellphones.

He said regulations in Police Standing Orders stated that police should not obstruct journalists at a crime scene.

Basson said they would ask for an urgent meeting with Phiyega, to whom they had complained in the past about the same conduct.

Sanef listed the latest incidents involving such conduct.

On Tuesday, Daily Sun reporter Mandla Mnyakama and photographer Lulekwa Mbadamane were covering riots by taxi drivers in Nyanga, Cape Town, when they were assaulted and abused by so-called “Amaphela” minibus taxi drivers.

They had parked their car near to where a Golden Arrow bus was burning in Govan Mbeki Drive.

Around 20 men proceeded to search them and ask whether they were carrying cameras.

Mbadamane hid her camera under her jacket and they found it and destroyed it by smashing it on the tar road.

Basson said they also took her cellphone and instructed the journalists to drive if they did not want to die, before pelting their vehicle with stones.

The same day, The Star photojournalist Matthews Baloyi was escorted out of Jeppestown, Johannesburg, after residents saw him raise his camera and threatened to beat him and other journalists.

Pictures deleted

A week ago, a police officer forced Eyewitness News reporter Thembekile Mrototo to hand over his cellphone after he used it to photograph police action against looters in Jeppestown. 

Basson said the officer, who wasn’t wearing a badge at the time, deleted the pictures and gave the phone back.

Two weeks ago, a security guard from the Passenger Rail Agency Authority of SA physically prevented Paarl Post journalist Frans le Roux from taking pictures of a train derailment in Paarl, in the Western Cape.

Basson said Le Roux was trying to take pictures from the road when the guard stormed at him.

Around the same time, Pretoria Rekord journalist Eliot Mahlase was apparently detained for hours by the Tshwane Metro police and forced to delete pictures he took of one of the officers stopping and detaining a motorist.

Mahlase believed the motorist was being arrested for alleged reckless driving and apparently saw officers manhandling him.

Basson said Mahlase was shocked when one of the officers put him in the back of the van because he had been taking photos legally in a public street.

“He was taken to the Garsfontein police station where he was ordered to delete the pictures from the cellphone he had used and then hand the cellphone to the officer,” Basson said.

“He was released some hours later after a senior member of the Rekord editorial staff had intervened.”

Tshwane metro police had met with the editor and deputy editor and a formal complaint and criminal case was lodged.

Basson said the metro police promised to investigate the matter, but had disputed the details of Mahlase’s allegations.

Read more on:    sanef  |  riah phiyega  |  media  |  police

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