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Sanef shocked at harassment of Beeld journalists

14 November 2013

The SA National Editors’ Forum condemns the harassment of a reporter and photographer from Beeld by the management of the Harbour Fish Market restaurant in Bedfordview November 13 2013.

Employees of the restaurant “confiscated” Beeld’s camera after a photographer took pictures of the Harbour Fish Market from the parking lot of the Bedford Centre.
It is public knowledge that Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir frequents the restaurant.

After spotting the photographer, two men left the restaurant and aggressively approached the Beeld team in their vehicle. They removed camera equipment from the journalists’ vehicle and grabbed the camera from photographer Cornél van Heerden’s hands.

They returned to the restaurant with the equipment. Beeld’s journalists called the Bedford Centre’s security, who refused to intervene and return the equipment. Beeld then called the Bedfordview Police Station, that dispatched three officers to the centre.

The restaurant offered to “release” the equipment on grounds that pictures of the Harbour Fish Market be deleted in front of them. Shockingly, the SAPS members present agreed that the pictures should be deleted.

Beeld editor Adriaan Basson advised his colleagues to delete the photos, get their camera equipment and leave. “It was clear to me that we were in harm’s way and I didn’t want to put my colleagues at risk by continuing the argument with people who clearly have no clue about freedom of expression,” Basson said.
After photos of the restaurant were deleted in view of the police, the camera equipment were returned.

Basson said he was enraged by the restaurant’s actions, as the pictures were taken from a public space. “We have seen numerous photos and footage of the restaurant before. This was a complete over-reaction by the restaurant and a failure by the Bedford Centre’s management to intervene.”
Sanef is to complain to Police Commissioner General Riah Phiyega and request that disciplinary action be taken against the police officers who removed the pictures on the grounds of theft. Beeld intends laying criminal charges.