The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) condemns another hostile attack against journalists by police at the scene of service delivery protests outside Port Elizabeth. Yesterday morning a team of journalists from the South African Broadcasting Services (SABC), although clearly identified, came under attack by riot police and were pelted with rubber bullets.
According to SABC Editor in Chief Ms Phathiswa Magopeni:
“We were informed by our regional editor, Diedre Uren that at 9 am yesterday our team, Zolani Moya and Gcobani Blom, were at the Motherwell intersection on the Addo Road outside Port Elizabeth covering a story about service delivery protests, when they came under fire from the police”. The protests had been taking place on and off for most of the week.
“They were covering the blocking of the roads”, says Magopeni. “The crew was clearly identifiable in a SABC branded bakkie. The cameraman was on the back of the bakkie filming when the radio reporter noticed an oncoming ‘Hippo’ riot vehicle. They immediately jumped down and tried to get into the vehicle to leave the area. The community was around them but peaceful.”
Says Magopeni, “Our vehicle was not blocking the road as it was parked on the side of the road. But police without warning started firing rubber bullets and as our team tried to flee, they were shot at and injured”.
Both journalists were taken to the hospital and received treatment. Fortunately, they are now stable.
Magopeni states, “This attack was unnecessary and extremely hostile. Every care is taken to train our journalists on what to do in hostile situations. They are told to clearly identify themselves which they did. It is a brazen attack that must be investigated at the very highest level of the police leadership”.
SANEF will table this matter at its upcoming meeting with the National Police Commissioner and the Ministry of Police. The attacks and assaults on journalists at crime scenes by police, and the censorship by police of journalists doing their job at crime scenes are on the increase. These actions prevent journalists from informing the public of the truth, a right enshrined and protected in our constitution. Service delivery protests are a common feature in our country and journalists have a right and a duty to covering these stories. The officer responsible must be held accountable.
Note to Editors: The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is a non-profit organisation whose members are editors, senior journalists and journalism trainers from all areas of the South African media. We are committed to championing South Africa’s hard-won freedom of expression and promoting quality, ethics and diversity in the South African media. We promote excellence in journalism through fighting for media freedom, writing policy submissions, research, education and training programmes. SANEF is not a union.
For more information please contact:
Mahlatse Mahlase – SANEF Chairperson, (083) 399-2852
Mary Papayya – Acting SANEF Media Freedom Chair (082) 379-4957
Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor 0825713334
Sbu Ngalwa – SANEF Eastern Cape Convenor (073) 404-1415
Janet Heard – SANEF Western Cape SANEF Convenor, 0780419528
Hopewell Radebe – SANEF Acting Gauteng Regional Convenor 083 582 1734
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director – 082 926 6404