15 May 2019
The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is shocked to hear that journalists were blocked from taking pictures of eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede outside the Durban Commercial Crimes Court yesterday. This was shortly after she was granted R50 000 bail, when appearing on a number of corruption-related charges linked to a R208m tender with the Durban Solid Waste Department.
According to journalists present at the court, the mayor’s supporters threatened them after the proceedings adjourned.
Journalist, Kaveel Singh reported that he was pushed, shoved and elbowed and that the mayor’s supporters physically blocked him, and fellow journalists, from taking pictures of her as she exited.
“However, what was even more problematic was that police sided with her supporters”, Singh stated. They turned a blind eye to the harassment and then ordered everyone to leave the premises, including the media.
SANEF believes that these restrictions on the media undermined the constitutional principle of “open justice”. This is a principle that calls for court proceedings to be open to the public – this includes allowing journalists to film and take pictures outside the court, during breaks and when formal proceedings have adjourned.
SANEF believes that it is the duty of the police to ensure that journalists can do their job without interference. SANEF will be taking up the matter with the Commercial Crimes Court.
For more information please contact:
- Mahlatse Mahlase – SANEF Chairperson, 083 399 2852
- Sam Mkokeli – SANEF Media Freedom 082 084 2051
- Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director 082 926 6404