A News24 journalist was left shaken on Tuesday morning after a policeman pointed a firearm at her and threatened to shoot her in peak morning traffic.
The policeman was part of a security operation believed to be transporting cash to the South African Reserve Bank office in central Cape Town.
Jerusha Sukhdeo-Raath, head of video at 24.com, was travelling to work with her husband, Gideon, at 07:45 when they noticed a number of heavily armed police vehicles and officers.
“I didn’t realise what was happening, and as a reporter, I pulled out my phone and tried to get snippets of what was happening around me,” she said.
“At the intersection of Strand Street and Adderley Street, I propped up my phone on the dashboard and filmed what was happening. The second I started filming this man came and pointed his gun at me and said ‘I will shoot you, what are you doing?’
“He walked to the passenger door and gestured as though he would open the door. I yelled ‘You can’t do that’.
“I was genuinely worried when he gestured to pull me out of the car that I would be in trouble for just doing my job, and that he would take away the footage.”
Sukhdeo-Raath later tweeted a clip of her footage, and has received a number of responses.
Greg Wagner, from the office of Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, Dan Plato, asked her to report the incident and lay a complaint with the Western Cape Police Ombudsman.
Western Cape police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut said he could send a police officer to the office for her to lay a complaint, or she could follow up with the police or Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).
The Right2Know campaign’s Murray Hunter told Sukhdeo-Raath that police officers almost never have the right to stop the media from taking photos or video, and are under explicit instructions not to.
Section 16 of the Constitution protects media freedom, and SAPS Standing Order 156 states that all police members “must treat all media representatives with courtesy, dignity and respect, even when provoked”. Police may not stop media representatives from taking photographs or video, and may not seize or damage any equipment or force them to delete photos.
Gideon Raath told News24: “We were both a little surprised, it seemed disproportionate to what happened. We thought it was a very strong reaction, it was a bit aggressive, shouting at us. We were just trying to make sense of it.”NEWS24