Journalist beaten up by police

police_beating_junosSOWETAN journalist Riot Hlatshwayo was beaten by police in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga on 12 January 2010.

Hlatshwayo was covering a story about a traffic officer accused of bribery when the South African Police Service (SAPS) superintendent Fanie Molapo allegedly ordered his colleague to assault him as revenge for the bad publicity he had received from his previous stories he wrote about Molapo.

Hlatshwayo says Molapo summoned him to the spot where the traffic officer had hidden stolen goods in Likete near Bushbuckridge, then he started taking pictures whilst Molapo was on the phone. Molapo then told him to stop taking pictures and he did so. Adding, as I was leaving he told one of the officers to follow me and instructed him to beat me up saying I wrote negative stories about him and his son. The officer then started to attacking Hlatshwayo, punching and pushing him around, took him to Molapo and slapped him too.

Other officers who witnessed the alleged assault say they were shocked, but claim they were unable to help because a gun was pointing at them. The SOWETAN was yet to make a formal statement about this damning behaviour.

Meanwhile the South African Editors Forum (SANEF) has revolved to revive its discussions with senior police leaders to secure medias right to report crime stories. Recent incidents of intimidation of journalists by police at crime scenes have raised concerns that some officers are continuing to treat journalists in a negative manner, enforcing unofficial curbs on reporting. The forum has undertaken to lobby the government to pay attention to these issues, including amending or withdrawing all punitive laws such as Section 205 of the Criminal Act.

SANEF has also called on the National Director of Public Prosecutions Menzi Simelani to respond to its plea to reverse his decision to censor prosecutors from speaking to the media. Noting that many South African institutions are increasingly blocking their employees/ members from speaking to the public via the media, we will develop a campaign to promote a national culture of openness, noted SANEF.

Post published in: Politics

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