Media24 journalist Jan Gerber was manhandled and forced to delete photographs by individuals in white shirts, believed to be police officers, on Wednesday, the SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) tweeted.
“Gerber was taking pictures of the unidentified police officers and also of public order policing vans,” Sanef said on its Twitter account.
This was around two hours before President Jacob Zuma was due to answer parliamentary questions at 3pm.
“The five officers dragged him to the ground opposite the SAPS office in Plein Street and forced him to delete his photographs.”
The journalist sustained scratches and bruises at the hands of the white-shirted people, who claimed to be part of the police’s VIP protection service.
“Sanef is perturbed by these unlawful actions which are in contravention of police standing orders prohibiting cops from deleting pictures.
“These unlawful actions are also an assault on freedom of expression as enshrined in the Constitution,” Sanef tweeted.
Sanef said it would confront police commissioner Riah Phiyega’s office about the incident.
“This is the latest incident of intimidation despite promises by senior cops and Riah Phiyega, that such illegal behaviour would be stopped.”
Phiyega’s spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
During Zuma’s state-of-the-nation address on February 12, Economic Freedom Fighters MPs were removed from the National Assembly Chamber, also by officers in white shirts. The Democratic Alliance walked out of the proceedings in protest.
Media24 parliamentary editor Janet Heard said the “heavy-handed action” Gerber was subjected to raised questions about Parliament’s security and who would be held accountable.
“We have seen an increasing security presence at Parliament lately, and a lot more secrecy.
“It is very worrying that a parliamentary journalist can get bullied and roughed up by shady security officers in white shirts, all because he was taking photographs in a public street.” SAPA