Pretoria cops rough up newspaper photographer

Police officers attempted to storm the Pretoria News offices late on Friday afternoon in an apparent bid to arrest a photographer who had taken pictures of them arresting a suspected thief.

A Pretoria News staffer told the South African Press Association that the newspaper’s chief photographer Masi Losi had rushed out of the building to take pictures of a mob that had caught a suspected thief.

Police arrived and arrested the suspect, but then according to the staffer, turned on Losi and attempted to take his camera.

Other newspaper staff dragged Losi into the building and police demanded that they be allowed to enter the building, demanding that the photographer and his camera be handed over.

Later a senior police officer could be seen in Vermeulen Street talking to Pretoria News executive editor Jos Charle as about 30 police officers milled around in the street.

Numerous police vehicles were parked in the street with their lights flashing, watched by a large crowd.

Charle confirmed the incident, saying he had seen the arrest of the thief from his office window and then the reaction of the officers to Losi taking pictures.

He said he became alarmed when one of the officers shoved Losi to the ground and had his knee on his chest.

“I went down. They threatened to arrest me as well,” he said, adding the police had claimed that he was interfering with them.

Charle said the police demanded that he hand over Losi and wanted to enter the Pretoria News building.

He had instructed security personnel to keep the building closed.

“It is totally unacceptable to have policemen acting the way they did when all the photographer was doing was his job. This is not a banana republic.”

He said that he had received an apology from Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant-General Mzwandile Petros, whom he said had promised to investigate the incident.

Police comment on the incident was not immediately available.
- Sapa

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