The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) strongly condemns public order policing action in Eersterust, Pretoria during service delivery protests in the area.
A number of innocent people suffered serious injuries including skull fractures when more than 20 public order police officers opened fire with rubber bullets during a protest on Wednesday.
Citizen photographer Jacques Nelles had a rubber bullet wound in his back while senior reporter Virginia Keppler broke her leg and ankle while running for cover. Pretoria News reporter Sakhile Ndlazi was also hit on the back of his head by a rubber bullet. A number of Eersterust citizens were seriously hurt including a 61-year old man, Arthur Moses who died in his home after inhaling tear gas.
SANEF strongly condemns this action by police and is taking up Tshwane Mayor, Solly Msimanga’s call to open a case with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid). SANEF notes the fact that there have been a number of incidents of abuse of journalists by the police in recent times. We note the most recent incident of police abuse in Chatsworth where Sunday Tribune journalist, Karinda Jagmohan was physically manhandled and abused while covering protests outside the Chatsworth police station in May. The protests erupted as a response to the death of 9-year old Sadia Sukhraj in a hijacking and shootout in Shallcross, Chatsworth.
SANEF expects that in the lead up to South Africa’s 2019 elections there will be increasing numbers of community protests about lack of service delivery, crime, land and related issues. We note the fact that is essential that police act with impeccable professionalism and in the interests of citizens in these circumstances. Both citizens and journalists must be protected. These are critical elections – journalists must be able to report without fear or favour and in circumstances that protect their safety.
For more information please contact:
Mahlatse Mahlase – SANEF Chairperson
083 399 2852
Sam Mkokeli – SANEF Media Freedom Committee Coordinator
082 084 2051
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director
082 926 6404