The Commonwealth Observer

South Africa journos mistreated in Soweto riots by police and protesters

Murray Burt
Written by Murray Burt

Two journalists were mistreated in separate incidents during a Soweto uprising.

Three people have been killed since the violent unrest began after a foreign business owner shot a 14-year-old boy accused of trying to rob a shop, Eyewitness News reported.

SAPA journalist Mpho Raborife was forced to remove pictures taken with her cellphone.

After noticing three police vehicles outside Somali-owned shops on her way to work, Raborife stopped to investigate and took photos of two men loading groceries onto a white van, then left the scene.

Police pulled her vehicle over and told her she is not allowed to take photos without their permission and “leak them to media”. Regardless of her showing them her press card, they threatened to take Raborife to their commander and watched her as she deleted the photos.

The police let her go after they took down her details and took a photo of her vehicle.

In the second incident, Eyewitness News reporter Leeto Khoza was attacked with a rock by angry protestors later while covering the unrest in Meadowlands Zone 5. Soweto protestors decided to turn their attention away from the police and shop owners and instead attack journalists for fear of their identities being revealed. Khoza was hit on the head with a rock and lost consciousness for some time and needed intensive care.

The South African National Editors’ Forum said such actions contravene police standing orders, which prohibit them from deleting journalists’ pictures at crime scenes. SANEF also calls on the public to “respect the right of journalists to do their work and to actually protect them against those who may not wish for the truth to be known”.

—Source: IFEX

Photo credit: Eugene Wei / cc

About the author

Murray Burt

Murray Burt

Murray Burt has been a journalist for nearly 60 years, starting as a cadet reporter in New Zealand, and doing two stints with wire services on Fleet Street before settling in Canada in the newspaper business. He is a retired managing editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, and former city and national editor of The Globe and Mail in Toronto. He is a past-president of the CJA and has been a life member since 2003, participating in each of its conferences and CPU’s conferences since 1990. He is a director of the Advisory Council of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, based in New Delhi; president of Manitoba’s newly-reconstituted Royal Commonwealth Society; and has directorships in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and the Canadian Forces Liaison Council (western Canada).

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