11 July 2019
The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) condemns the attack and manhandling of two journalists allegedly at the hands of Metro police in Durban while they were covering a protest in support of suspended eThekwini Mayor, Zandile Gumede.
Independent Newspaper Group’s political Journalist Sihle Mavuso was allegedly assaulted and arrested by metro police during the protest. Freelance journalist Desiree Erasmus who captured the arrest on camera stated that she thought that police might not have been aware that Mavuso was a journalist.
An ENCA journalist, Siphamandla Goge, was also manhandled and roughed up by Metro police officers.
Supporters of Zandile Gumede, whom the ANC provincial leadership has placed on special leave amid charges of fraud and corruption relating to an R208m Durban Solid Waste Tender, were protesting in central Durban, where police fired stun grenades to disperse them. The party is still to finalise when she must return to her duties however protestors anticipated her return to work today – they thus gathered in the city’s West street.
Just after 10 am SAPS spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele told SANEF that Mavuso was taken in by Metro police to the Durban central police station on a charge of assault of a metro police officer. Later it emerged that he was also charged for resisting arrest. Initially, the police wanted to hold him for 48 hours. However, we have now been informed that he has been released. Independent Regional Editor, Yogas Nair, stated that Mavuso was traumatised and in shock.
SANEF is very disturbed to hear about the arrest and the attack on both journalists. We call on the eThekwini Municipality to investigate the matter and have the charges dropped.
This is not the first time that journalists covering matters relating to the Mayor have come under attack. At previous protests, journalists were verbally threatened by supporters. SANEF calls on the ANC leadership in KZN to take swift action against their members who disregard the role of the media and continue to attack journalists.
SANEF reiterates that the media has an important role to play in our democracy and our constitution protects such a right. When journalists who report for the public good, are attacked it means the public is robbed of information and of the truth.
There are several channels for recourse if anyone has a grievance against a journalist or a publication/ broadcast of a story. This includes talking to the editor of the media house, filing a complaint with the Press Ombudsman for print and online and going to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) for broadcast complaints.
For more information please contact:
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director 082 926 6404
Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Regional Convener 082 571 3334
Mary Papayya – SANEF Media Freedom 082 379 4957
Sbu Ngalwa – SANEF Media Freedom 073 404 1415