The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) condemned the attack and manhandling of two journalists allegedly at the hands of Metro police in Durban while they were covering a protest in support of suspended eThekwini Mayor, Zandile Gumede.
Independent Newspaper Group’s political Journalist Sihle Mavuso was allegedly assaulted and arrested by metro police during the protest.
Freelance journalist Desiree Erasmus who captured the arrest on camera stated that she thought that police might not have been aware that Mavuso was a journalist.
ENCA journalist Siphamandla Goge was also manhandled and roughed up by Metro police officers.
Supporters of Zandile Gumede, whom the ANC provincial leadership has placed on special leave amid charges of fraud and corruption relating to a R208m Durban Solid Waste Tender, were protesting in central Durban, where police fired stun grenades to disperse them. The party is still to finalise when she must return to her duties however protestors anticipated her return to work today – they thus gathered in the city’s West street.
SAPS spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele told SANEF that Mavuso was taken in by Metro police to the Durban central police station on a charge of assault of a metro police officer. Later it emerged that he was also charged for resisting arrest.
Initially the police wanted to hold him for 48 hours. However, we have now been informed that he has been released. Independent Regional Editor, Yogas Nair, stated that Mavuso was traumatised and in shock.
SANEF calls on the eThekwini Municipality to investigate the matter and have the charges dropped.
This is not the first time that journalists covering matters relating to the Mayor have come under attack. At previous protests journalists were verbally threatened by supporters.
SANEF called on the ANC leadership in KZN to take swift action against their members who disregard the role of the media and continue to attack journalists.