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Joint Statement by the South African National Editors’ Forum and the South African Police Services

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24 February 2010

National Police Commissioner, Bheki Cele, and a delegation from the SA National Editors’ Forum met in Johannesburg today to discuss a variety of “operational communication issues” including police Standing Orders 156 and aspects of Section 205.

The two-hour long talks followed a meeting between the Minister and Deputy Minister of Police with Sanef earlier this month. In a joint statement, Commissioner Cele and Sanef agreed the talks were honest and robust and a variety of views and ideas were exchanged.

Cele said; “I heard a variety of concerns from the editors which included the arrest of journalists, problems they are experiencing at crime scenes, and an apparent lack of information at times. We also discussed section 205. We have to find an amicable solution for both the police and the media. We must allow both parties to do their jobs without any problems.”

The police leadership explained that they are in the process of restructuring their communications department as there are “too many” spokespeople all over the country.

The meeting resolved there needs to be ongoing and regular meetings between SANEF and the SAPS. It was agreed that a high level task team of representatives from both Sanef and the SAPS be formed immediately, which will convene as early as next week to discuss the proposed restructuring and other communication challenges.

It was further resolved that the training of SAPS members as well as Journalists about policing and media issues will receive priority.

Cele said; “when police are doing bad, media can bash us, but when the police are doing good they should be given a pat on the back.”

Sanef Chairperson Jovial Rantao said media is committed to accurate, balanced and fair reporting. “It is important for the police to share their good efforts in order for the media to report their successes.”

Issued by: SA National Editors’ Forum (SANEF)