Sanef slams arrest of journalist

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) said on Thursday that it was outraged by the arrest of an Oudtshoorn journalist.

The arrest took place on Tuesday.

“We are outraged at the arrest of the Kaapse Son‘s journalist, Hein Coetzee, after he had reported complaints by residents in Dassieweg that police had acted brutally, assaulting and threatening them with firearms during a raid on Sunday,” said Sanef chairperson Raymond Louw.

Louw said Coetzee had asked the police for a comment before publishing his story.

Coetzee had given an account of how men, women and teenagers were manhandled, slapped in the face and threatened with firearms.

The story was published in a newspaper on Tuesday and the journalist in question is said to have received a call from a resident who told him she had a bullet that had been dropped by the police.

“She handed it over to Coetzee who immediately informed the police and handed it in at the police station,” said Louw.

Coetzee was arrested when he returned to the police station for a second time.

After leaving the station, he received a phone call requesting him to return urgently—and he did.

Coetzee said when he returned to the police station, he was told that a charge had been laid against him for “the illegal possession of ammunition and firearms”.

“I was quite surprised and tried to make enquiries when they started reading me my rights.”

Louw said Sanef believed Coetzee’s arrest had nothing to do with the possession of ammunition, as he had clearly told the police how he had come into possession of the bullet.

“We believe the arrest is a vindictive retaliation by the police on the journalist for reporting the residents’ descriptions of the brutality of the police.”

Captain Malcom Pojie confirmed the arrest and said Coetzee was detained for about three hours.

“He was arrested for illegal possession of ammunition and was released on warning the same day. He appeared in court on Wednesday and the case was postponed to February 5,” Pojie said.

Pojie said the arrest had nothing to do with the story appearing in the newspaper.

“He was arrested for the possession of a cartridge from a shotgun which he alleges was given to him by one of the residents. There was no ulterior motive behind his arrest.”—Sapa

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