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The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) is outraged by the latest spate of violent attacks on journalists covering protests in the Tshwane metropolitan municipality. Reporters from various news media outlets have been chased away by protesters; intimidated with violence; physically attacked or intimidated by police officers on the scene.
The following incidents have been brought to our attention:
·    Power FM journalist Tshidi Madia was forced out of Soshanguve on Wednesday and told to leave Mamelodi on Tuesday because she was reporting on the protests. Protestors threatened her to leave the areas.
·    eNCA reporter Jody Jacobs and camerawoman Noluthando Hlophe were robbed at gunpoint by a mob in Mamelodi after a live crossing on the protests on Wednesday evening. Two men walked up to them and threatened to shoot them if they did not hand over their equipment. The journalists handed over their camera, tripod and microphone to the robbers.
·    SABC journalist Horisani Sithole’s had his hand bitten in Mabopane while trying to capture a mob looting a spaza shop owned by a foreign national. He had to receive medical treatment.
·    News24 reporter Jeff Wicks was assaulted on Wednesday by a police officer in Ga-Rankuwa who wanted to prevent him from recording video of the police shooting rubber bullets at protestors. Officers also confiscated his phone and instructed him to delete video and pictures.
·    On Tuesday Atteridgeville residents took the phones and video camera of EWN reporters Clement Manyathela and Kgothatso Mogale after threatening them with a brick. They were forced to delete all footage and released after doing so.
·    News24 reporter Karabo Ngoepe also had his phone confiscated by a police officer in Ga-Rankuwa who forced him to delete pictures and video. The officer took pictures of News24’s vehicle and threatened to “deal with” the journalist.
·    A freelance photographer from AFP had his cellphone stolen while taking pictures of the unrest in Mamelodi.
Sanef is deeply concerned about the level of hostility and intimidation displayed towards journalists who covered the Tshwane protests this week. We call on all South Africans and particularly the residents of Tshwane to respect the constitutional rights afforded to journalists to freely report the news without threats of violence, intimidation or arrest.
We thank community members who have protected our colleagues during these protests and encourage community leaders and activists to proactively work with us in educating the public about the role of the media in a constitutional democracy.
Sanef will once again approach the office of the Acting National Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Johannes Khomotso Phahlane, about the unlawful actions of police officers who had assaulted a journalist, confiscated equipment from reporters and forced them to delete pictures from their cameras and phones. Police Standing Order 156 explicitly states that the SAPS may not prohibit journalists from taking photographs or making visual recordings of crime scenes.
A joint publication on crime scene behaviour was recently published by Sanef and the SAPS.  Sanef encourages all newsrooms to ensure that every reporter is armed with the Z card that will be distributed at the forthcoming Sanef AGM in Johannesburg on July 9. We will also call on General Phahlane to ensure all police officers know what the rights of journalists are on a crime scene or at public protests. Sanef is dismayed that previous efforts to meet with the present SAPS leadership over similar incidents have not been honoured by General Phahlane.
The issue of attacks on journalists will be discussed at the Sanef AGM and we encourage all members to report incidences of abuse, intimidation and threats to the Sanef media freedom subcommittee.
We further call on the SAPS to speedily investigate the cases opened by reporters against their perpetrators and ensure that the offenders are brought to book.
To download a soundbite of this statement, go to https://soundcloud.com/adriaanmedia/sanef-comment-on-tshwane
For enquiries please contact:
Adriaan Basson, Sanef Media Freedom Committee chairman 082 562-2113
Raymond Louw, Sanef Media Freedom Committee deputy chairman – 011 646-8790/082 446 5155.