Correctional services condemn 'forceful' treatment of News24 journalist

2018-03-28 17:11
Morris “Captain KGB” Tshabalala as he leaves the Commercial Crimes Court in Tshwane. (File, Alex Mitchley, News24)

Morris “Captain KGB” Tshabalala as he leaves the Commercial Crimes Court in Tshwane. (File, Alex Mitchley, News24)

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The Department of Correctional Services has condemned the behaviour of some of its officers following an altercation with a News24 journalist on Wednesday.

Following the appearance of Morris "Captain KGB" Tshabalala in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court, News24 reporter Alex Mitchley tried to take pictures of the controversial former Crime Intelligence officer.

Mitchley said it was members of the department's emergency security team who accosted him.

"As I exited the court, they removed him (Tshabalala) from the courtroom and put shackles on him. I took out my phone to take a picture of it," Mitchley said.

One of the correctional officers took his cellphone.

"They aggressively ripped it from my hands and would not give it back, despite me explaining that they can't take my phone. They then proceeded to go through my phone without my permission," he said.

He explained to the correctional officer that he had not managed to take a picture, but they threatened and intimidated him anyway, he said.

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"I kept trying to reiterate that they can't do that, I was within my rights to take a picture, I was just doing my job," Mitchley said.

Mitchley said he and other reporters had been taking pictures of Tshabalala before and after his appearances throughout his case.

'Impressive' response from government

Tshabalala has been charged with fraud, theft and corruption which relates to alleged fraudulent invoices to the tune of R563 005, sourced for blinds and curtains for safe houses in Pretoria.

The invoices were submitted by Tshabalala and authorised by a major general, and the sum was paid out in cash.

Mitchley said he was impressed with the department's response following the incident.

"As soon as I called the spokesperson to lay a complaint, he got into his car and drove here to address the officer and speak to me. I am very grateful for that," he said.

Singabakho Nxumalo, spokesperson for correctional services, said the department was shocked to hear of the incident.

"We strongly condemn this violent behaviour and such an act can never define who we are as a department. We would like to offer a formal apology not just to Mr Mitchley but the media fraternity as a whole," he said.

"We have a duty to protect the media so that they can do their job freely and shall respect media freedom and freedom of expression as enshrined in our Constitution."

Nxumalo said the department had identified the official and a formal investigation was under way.

Read more on:    morris tshabalala  |  media

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