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The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) notes with interest the arrest this morning of Sunday Times journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika at the newspapers’ offices in Rosebank. The forum reserves comment on the merits or demerits of the arrest until such time as it obtains clarity on the matter, especially on the reasons for the very public arrest.
However, the forum strongly condemns the attempt by the heavy police contingent to stop press photographers from recording the event. This is in violation of the freedom of the media and the public’s right to know enshrined in the Constitution. It also flies in the face of numerous assurances by the office of the national commissioner of police, General Bheki Cele that it would ensure that police desist from such obstructionist conduct and cooperate with the media.
Sunday Times Editor Ray Hartley said he was deeply concerned at the fact that a journalist can be arrested and held at an undisclosed location in a country where the rule of law ought to apply. “He was arrested by a large number of policemen in an operation which was clearly designed to intimidate and I can only conclude that this was the true motive for what took place today.”
Mzilikazi was one of the authors of the story which we published on Sunday about the rental of new police headquarters at the cost of R500m without following the usual tender proceedings. I hope, for the sake of our country, that he was not arrested on spurious charges in order to punish him for what he wrote. “We are doing everything in our power to have him released and we are doing all that we can to assure his well being,” said Hartley.
Issued by: SA National Editors’ Forum (SANEF)