LESS than a day after a police raid last week, rebel radio station Radio Donkerhoek defied the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) by going back on the air. The defiant right-wing broadcaster sprung into action once more from the same cellar in which station chief Willem Ratte last Wednesday threatened that the station’s equipment would only be removed over his dead body.
Ratte is due to appear in court towards the end of the month on charges of trespassing relating to the right-wing occupation of Fort Schanskop in December 1993.
The management celebrated their defiant return to the airwaves with the introduction of a new phone-in programme in which two journalists from the far-right discussed current news issues.
A high-point of the programme occurred when a caller complained about the dubious racial origins of an Afrikaans singer whose song was played to fill in a break.
The location of the cellar-based “headquarters” had long been an open secret, even outside right-wing circles, and police ostensibly only acted after receiving a complaint from the IBA. Although nobody would openly admit to it, the sudden raid had in all probability more to do with the fact that a licence was recently granted to original rebel station Radio Pretoria.
The station resumed broadcasts on Sunday after being off the air for exactly a year—this time with the blessing of the IBA. Radio Donkerhoek, by contrast, passed over the opportunity to take the legal route of applying for an IBA
But, while the Radio Donkerhoek staff may feel sufficiently fortified within the stone-walled confines of their bunker, the police may shortly have to act against the station again, depending on a decision by the attorney general.
When police and defence force units raided the station last week, Ratte, his four year old daughter and two other people locked themselves inside. As helicopters circled overhead, Ratte threatened that the equipment inside the cellar would only be removed over his dead body.
A stand-off and, some say, potential bloodbath, was resolved when police offered to withdraw on condition that they will open a docket investigating the goings on at Radio Donkerhoek.
Police were also allowed to videotape and photograph the interior of the cellar before withdrawing.
Police spokesman captain Dave Harrington this week said the investigation is continuing and that the docket will next week be handed to the attorney general for his decision.—