/ 5 December 2007

Sanef condemns arrest of reporters in Lenasia

Police involved in Tuesday’s arrest of journalists reporting on a car accident in Lenasia should be investigated, the South African National Editor’s Forum (Sanef) said.

”Sanef requests an investigation into the conduct of the police for this unwarranted interference with journalists carrying out their duties,” the forum said in a statement.

However, police on Tuesday said they had no knowledge of any arrests of journalists at the scene.

Sanef said that despite Radio Islam journalist Azhar Vadi having informed the police that he was reporting on an accident, police arrested him anyway.

”Though the journalist … had identified himself to the police and stated that he was reporting on the occurrence, the police grabbed him and bundled him into a police van, allegedly manhandling him while doing so.”

Police, Sanef said, had accused Vadi of interfering with their work and confiscated his cellphone. They also arrested a colleague who tried to intervene on his behalf.

”Sanef condemns this outrageous conduct by the police especially in light of the journalists having identified themselves and having stated their purpose.

”The action of the police carries the implication that they were trying to censor the journalists and prevent information about the accident becoming public knowledge,” Sanef said.

However, Vaal police spokesperson Captain William Mcera said the police had no knowledge of the arrests.

”All I know is that there was an accident involving a police truck. There is nothing in our records indicating that police arrested reporters at the scene,” he said. – Sapa