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SA National Editors’ Forum condemns attack by striking students on press photographer

The SA National Editors’ Forum condemns the attack by striking students on Mercury photographer Doctor Ngcobo while taking photographs of the strikers at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Medical School on Monday, April 4.

Ngcobo said that when he was about to take pictures of a group of between 10-15 students, they came towards and started singing in Zulu that “somebody must be beaten up”. Then the group started beating him in the face repeatedly using their placards. He suffered small cuts on the inside of his lips and also was punched in the face once.

The students stopped when one of their number called on the others to leave him alone. As they left they said they would attack him again if he continued taking photographs.

Two Mercury reporters witnessed the attack. Police officers inside the university premises took no action.

Ngcobo is considering laying a charge.

Sanef is deeply alarmed at this the second attack on a photographer in Durban in recent weeks. There have been a number of instances in various parts of the country where police officers have tried to prevent photographers from taking pictures and have taken their cameras, and on occasion roughed them up and arrested them.

These attacks are not only illegal but they appear to be part of a growing tendency among the police and the public to prevent journalists from carrying out their duties of informing the public.

Photographers are particularly vulnerable to attack because their equipment immediately distinguishes them.

Sanef supports any criminal charge laid against officials and the public interfering with journalists while carrying out their duties and calls on the university to investigate the attack on Ngcobo and take appropriate disciplinary action against the perpetrators.