News agencies charged over Mandela cameras

Police have laid criminal charges against two media outlets for setting up surveillance cameras outside former president Nelson Mandela’s rural residence, a spokesperson said Thursday.

“Cases against at least two media houses have been opened,” said national police spokesperson Vish Naidoo, who declined to name the organisations.

The news outlets face criminal charges, Naidoo told Agence-France Press. “They were in contravention of the National Key Points Act.”

“All presidents’ residences are declared national key points. No person is allowed to film a part of or whole national key point.”

Police regulations are strict around national key points, areas considered sensitive on national security grounds. These include some government buildings such as the Union Buildings, site of the president’s office in Pretoria.

Interviewed before police announced the charges, international news agencies Reuters and Associated Press on Thursday confirmed they had set set up cameras outside Mandela’s home in the Eastern Cape.

Cameras removed
“We did have a camera and it has been removed,” Reuters spokesperson Joanne Crosby told AFP, declining to comment further.

AP spokesperson Paul Colford said in an email to AFP: “The cameras were positioned some time ago, with the knowledge of authorities. The cameras are not turned on. They are not spying on Mr Mandela’s home.

“They are part of the preparedness that AP and other large news organisations customarily make in the event of a major news story involving a former world leader.”

Police removed at least two cameras from a house neighbouring Mandela’s homestead on Monday.

The Times newspaper said the CCTV cameras had been installed as long as six years ago.

Anti-apartheid icon Mandela returned to his rural home in June after being discharged from hospital in January for an acute respiratory infection.

The frail 93-year-old’s health has sparked intense national and international media attention.

Mandela was elected South Africa’s first black president in 1994 and served one term before stepping down in 1999.—AFP



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