The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) is concerned at the forcible expulsion of journalists from the Polokwane Magistrates Court ahead of the appearance of Julius Malema on Wednesday morning.
Initial reports from the scene suggest that SAPS officers present in court removed all journalists who were not in possession of accreditation forms.
Our understanding, and that of reporters present on the scene, is that only news camera-people and photographers were required to apply for permission to use their equipment in court, but this was used as a pretext to compel the removal of all reporters, including print and radio journalists who were not in possession of such equipment.
Some, but not all, were subsequently readmitted. It appears some journalists were roughly handled by police officers in the process.
Sanef is working to establish more clearly the details of what took place, and why.
We have asked SAPS for an explanation and for an undertaking that journalists will be guaranteed access to the proceedings without the threat of harassment or intimidation.
The principle of open justice is fundamental to the credibility of our legal system.
Should reporters on the scene face further exclusion from the courtroom, or the use of force by SAPS or other security personnel we will take legal action to secure their rights and those of their audiences to receive information about this important trial.
Issued by SA National Editors’ Forum (SANEF)
26 September 2012