Sanef requests meeting with top cops following attacks on journalists

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has requested an urgent meeting with police leadership after four reported attacks on members of the media in two days.

Sanef executive director Mathatha Tsedu said in a statement on Monday that the forum was concerned by “what appears to be patent disregard of the SAPS members’ duty of protecting all members of the public, including journalists”.

On Saturday, two journalists from The Citizen - Nigel Sibanda and Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni - were attacked along with two community activists in a village near Mbizana in the Eastern Cape, following the funeral of anti-mining activist Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe.

“It is alleged police officers who arrived on the scene did not assist or stop the assaults, but instead took the injured to the police station instead of hospital,” Tsedu said.

On Friday, SABC journalist Jacques Steenkamp, who was investigating child prostitution in Mogale City, was accosted and kidnapped by alleged drug dealers who also run the prostitution ring. 

“They are alleged to have been in the company of police officers who assisted them. Steenkamp was held for a number of hours and only released after the group had withdrawn about R5 000 from his bank account.”

That same day, Sowetan photographer Tiro Ramatlhatse was attacked inside the Molopo Magistrate’s Court in Mmabatho, North West, by spectators while covering a fraud case involving about R18-million of North West University money.

A security guard came to his aid, Tsedu said.

He called on members of the public to “protect journalists and to appreciate the role that journalists play in a democracy”. 

“However, that such assaults happen with the alleged abetting of SAPS officers is disturbing in the extreme and it is this that Sanef hopes to resolve with the SAPS leadership in the meeting we have requested,” he said. - News24



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