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Sanef criticises intimidation of journalists

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The SA National Editors’ Forum expressed concern about reports, including video footage, of journalists being intimidated and harassed by protesters and police while covering student protests across the country.

” In particular the police’s heavy-handed approach at the Union Buildings affected journalists from a number of media houses including EWN [Eye Witness News], Radio702, Daily Vox and BBC,” Sanef executive director Mathatha Tsedu said in a statement.

“Protestors injured eNCA and SABC and some of this was captured on video. Some photographers were forced to delete photographs already captured.”

Some journalists from the BBC and an eNCA cameraman were injured when rocks were thrown at police and journalists at the Union Buildings on Friday.

Equipment was also damaged and there were reports of theft, said Tsedu.

“Sanef commends those students who intervened and forced their peers to return the equipment.”

Tensions were running high on Friday at the Union Buildings where a crowd of several thousand had gathered

A group had burnt tyres and portable toilets, scuffles broke out and stones and water bottles were thrown at police and police vehicles.

eNCA reported at the time that a BBC journalist was apparently hit on the head with a rock and was bleeding profusely.

Two News24 journalists and a journalist from Jacaranda FM were filming the demonstration and taking pictures when they were approached by Tshwane University of Technology Soshanguve students.

“Stop fucking shooting us. You are not allowed to shoot us,” the group told the three journalists. One of the students approached the Jacaranda FM journalist and struck her with a bottle, before telling her in Sotho, “Stop filming me you piece of shit. I will fucking kick you…”

The student was restrained by his peers.

Sanef urged any journalist who had been targeted over the past few days to bring this to its attention so that it could compile a comprehensive report and raise it directly with police top brass and student leaders.

“Coming at a time when we commemorate the events of Black Wednesday on 19 October 1977 and Media Freedom Day, any attempt to violate the freedoms now entrenched in our Constitution, either by the authorities or members of the public, must be condemned with the contempt it deserves,” Tsedu said. News24

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