The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) strongly condemns the hostile attack against Newzroom Afrika journalists who were prohibited by members of the South Africa Police Services (SAPS) from doing their job of covering the Diepsloot demolitions on 25 November 2020.
Journalist Mbali Thethani and cameraperson Muraga Mphaphuli were forcefully removed from the scene where they were covering the Diepsloot demolitions.
“While filming, we were asked to delete the footage and vacate the property because it was not ‘safe’. This is despite them having already completed 99% of the demolitions,” said Ms Thethani.
She stated she was speaking to the landlady (affected by the demolition) when police scolded and ordered them off the property. She said, “While making our way, my colleague Mphaphuli was manhandled, pushed and shoved by police.” A video showing the incident has since circulated on social media.
Thethani said there was no police barricade to direct journalists as to where they could operate. “It made it very difficult and prevented us from doing our jobs properly and informing the public at the same time.”
Gauteng SAPS spokesperson, Brig Mathapelo Peters said they have noted the circulating video clip and that an urgent internal investigation will be conducted to get to the bottom of the matter.
SANEF calls on senior officers in charge of these operations to brief their teams appropriately to allow the media to play its critical role of informing the public. We wish to strongly remind them that this is a right enshrined and protected in our constitution and one that must be adhered to under the COVID-19 lockdown rules.
SANEF is also working with the SAPS national team to revise the standing order 156 which deals with Media Communication in the SAPS. It will soon be replaced with new regulations guiding the relationship between the police and journalists.
We also wish to highlight the issue of journalists’ safety by referring all journalists and media organisations to the safety tips including on our SANEF website.
We call on all media organisations to ensure, wherever possible, that they provide trauma counselling for journalists who have been out on assignment. We reiterate the long-term damaging effects of untreated trauma. We have compiled a list of trauma and psychological services for journalists – these can also be accessed on our website.
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:
Adriaan Basson – SANEF Deputy Chairperson (082) 562-2113
Mahlatse Mahlase – Secretary General (083) 399-2852
Nwabisa Makunga – Treasurer (082) 555-1972
Mary Papayya – SANEF Media Freedom Chair (082) 379-4957
Chiara Carter – SANEF Eastern Cape Convenor (082) 659-9162
Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor (082) 571-3334
Asanda Ngoasheng – Western Cape Convenor – 082 610 9374
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director – (082) 926-6404
Email: [email protected] Website: www.sanef.org.za