The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) condemns the shooting of Newzroom Afrika reporter, Mweli Masilela while covering a protest by taxi operators in Kanyamazane township outside Mbombela, Mpumalanga.
Masilela was shot and injured when police fired rubber bullets just a few minutes after arriving in the area to disperse the protesters. There was a standoff between the police and taxi operators from the early hours of the morning over the taxi operators’ demand to carry passenger loads of a hundred per cent.
“I had just finished doing interviews with some taxi drivers who were protesting blocking the main road leading into the Kanyamazane township. I was taking some visuals of the blockade when police arrived on site and started firing rubber bullets,” Masilela said.
“I was clearly visible carrying a video camera and tripod, that’s why I still don’t understand why they still had to shoot me. They didn’t even give a warning for people to retreat. They just shouted move, move, and fired shots – that’s when one rubber bullet hit me,” Masilela told SANEF from the hospital where he was examined. He has opened a case against the police.
SANEF believes that this violent incident could have been avoided had police considered the safety of everyone involved before firing. The police should have given reporters and protesters sufficient warning time. Also, they should have given journalists time to find a safe space before indiscriminately firing in their direction.
SANEF calls on police leadership to take swift action and investigate the matter to identify and discipline those that compromised everyone’s safety. Further, we believe that public officials should respect the role of the media in our democracy. We intend to raise the matter with the National Police Commissioner in our upcoming meeting.
NB: SANEF wishes to remind all journalists that the South African Police Service (SAPS) has through its National Service Complaints Centre created a platform enabling the public and the media to report allegations of police brutality or cruelty, inhumane and/or degrading treatment and/or punishment, committed by members of the SAPS. Click here for details
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 and education and training programmes. SANEF is not a union.
For more information please contact:
Mahlatse Mahlase – SANEF Chairperson, (083) 399-2852
Katy Katopodis – SANEF Deputy Chairperson, (082) 805-7022
Moipone Malefane – SANEF Secretary-General (082) 772-5861
Dunisani Ntsanwisi – SANEF Community Committee Convenor (073) 981- 8649
Mary Papayya – SANEF Media Freedom Chair (082) 379-4957
Sbu Ngalwa – SANEF Eastern Cape Convenor (073) 404-1415
Janet Heard – SANEF Western Cape Convenor (078) 041-9528
Hopewell Radebe – SANEF Gauteng Convenor (083) 582-1734
Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor (082) 571-3334
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director – (082) 926-6404
Email: [email protected] Website: www.sanef.org.za