/ 5 December 2007

Charges dropped against radio journalist

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has welcomed the withdrawal of criminal charges laid by police against a journalist who was arrested while covering a car accident in Lenasia on Tuesday.

”The South African National Editors’ Forum welcomes the withdrawal of all charges against Radio Islam international news editor Azhar Vadi following his arrest yesterday [Tuesday] afternoon on charges of interfering with the police at a crash scene,” Sanef said in a statement on Wednesday.

Vadi, who was covering an accident involving a police truck transporting prisoners, was arrested by police but released on R500 bail shortly afterwards.

He appeared at the Protea Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

Sanef has demanded disciplinary action against the police officer who arrested Vadi.

”While welcoming the dismissal of charges against him, Sanef repeats its call on the police to conduct a thorough investigation with a view to taking disciplinary action against the police officer who carried out what was clearly an unlawful arrest.”

However, police defended the arresting officer, saying he only acted after Vadi had refused to obey police instructions at the accident scene.

”When the journalist in question was told to leave the accident scene’s demarcated area, he refused to comply and police were left with no option but to arrest him for interfering with their work,” said Vaal police spokesperson Captain William Mcera.

Mcera could not confirm whether police were aware Vadi was a journalist when they arrested him. — Sapa