Not allowing journalists to do their jobs undermines democracy - Media watchdog

2016-10-02 14:40

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Moments before police, security detain News24 reporter

2016-09-30 16:06

News24 reporter Kaveel Singh and a student were detained at UKZN.WATCH

Cape Town - Not allowing the media to do their jobs directly undermines SA's democracy, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) said following the arrest of News24 journalist Kaveel Singh on Friday.

The journalism watchdog condemned Singh's arrest at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Westville campus while covering student protests.

In a statement, MMA said that while tensions are high at universities, it is critical that journalists are able to do their job freely without intimidation, threat or harassment.

"As we seek to address and understand the issues surrounding the protests it is critical that the majority of people who are not at those exposed to as many diverse, accurate and fair perspectives to those events. 

"Arresting journalists, threatening them and intimidating them constitute not just a threat to the media professionals concerned or their media houses but also to our democracy.

"If journalists cannot do their job, if stories cannot be told, if footage is forcibly deleted, how can we hope to get a clear understanding of events around our country?"

Singh, who was told he would be charged with trespassing and resisting arrest, said he had done nothing wrong when police surrounded him and took his phone.

His footage of the protests was deleted and he was later released from custody.

MMA said it was aware that the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) had recently met with universities and the police over similar threats and incidents. 

"We call on the Saps, private security firms, university management, students and all members of the public to allow journalists to do their job without fear of arrest and intimidation.

"We further call on all our journalists and members of the media to ensure they do their jobs to the best of their ability and ensure they practice the highest standards of journalism in their reporting.

"In as much as it is fundamentally unacceptable for journalists to be threatened, if they themselves are not professional and do not treat those they report on with professionalism they open themselves up to criticism."

Read more on:    protests

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