Sanef worried by police 'strong-arming'

2013-06-13 14:10
(Nielen Bottomley, News24)

(Nielen Bottomley, News24)

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Johannesburg - A report about police allegedly bullying a Port Elizabeth TV crew to hand over footage of xenophobic attacks is worrying, the SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) said on Thursday.

The Herald newspaper reported on Monday police in Port Elizabeth allegedly "bullied" staff at community TV station Bay TV to hand over video footage of xenophobic attacks in the city's Booysen Park area, Sanef said in a statement.

The footage showed a Somali man being beaten to death and foreign shops being looted.

"Bay TV deputy station manager Lungile Nduvane claimed that on Friday 7 June... police bullied staff by using 'strong-arm tactics' to force them into handing over video footage," Sanef said.

Nduvane claimed that despite Bay TV having handed over the footage to police at the time it was aired after the attacks, police entered Bay TV's offices with a warrant to search and seize the memory card with the footage on it.

"Two detectives then threatened to break the place down and arrest me for obstruction of justice if I didn't hand it over to them," said Nduvane in the report.

The Herald reported that the police's Brigadier Miranda Mills denied there had been any intimidation and said the video footage was crucial to the police investigation.

"We want to identify the people involved and for this we need the footage. It is important for the case," she said.

"We obviously need all of it. I can state that all the correct procedures were followed and that necessary paperwork was in place."

According to the report, police applied section 205 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

This allowed for demands to be made on journalists to reveal their sources or what they knew about an alleged crime.

Memorandum of understanding

Sanef was concerned that police failed to abide by the memorandum of understanding reached between Sanef and the ministers of justice, and safety and security on 19 February 1999.

"That memorandum lays down that, before resorting to section 205, an opportunity must be provided for the matter to be referred to the national director of public prosecutions, to enable consultations and negotiations between all stakeholders to be held," Sanef said.

Sanef called for the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to investigate the matter and the police's failure to abide by the memorandum of understanding.

"The conduct of the police at Bay TV could have the effect of the TV journalists being labelled police informers, which could endanger their lives," the forum said.

"The memorandum of understanding accepts the need for the balancing of the interests of maintaining law and order with the right of freedom of the press and the media."

Read more on:    police  |  sanef  |  ipid  |  port elizabeth  |  xenophobia  |  police brutality

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