South Africa-Journalist-Arrest

Press body demands probe into arrest of S/African journalist

APA-Johannesburg (South Africa)

The South African National Press Club on Tuesday demanded an urgent probe into the arrest of a journalist who was detained while covering this week’s local government elections.

Newzroom Afrika’s Zinokoka Mhlaba was live on the air when he was accosted by a senior member of the police as he broadcast live from a street in Soweto. 

National Press Club deputy chairperson Willem van de Putte said the arrest of the journalist was a blight to free and fair elections.  

“It is ironic that on a day on which citizens are exercising their democratic rights, a journalist is arrested for doing his job,” van de Putte said. 

He added: “The Newzroom Africa journalist, Zinokoka Mhlaba, was accosted by police as he made a live report.”

According to him, a senior police officer “could be seen in the live footage moving in front of the camera as the reporter pleaded to be left alone as he was only doing his job.”

“The footage becomes distorted as the police officer apparently wrestles the camera away from its operator,” van de Putte said. 

He said the incident was shocking, as it sent the wrong message that police “can act with impunity – even where no crime has been committed,” he added.

He called on the Independent Electoral Commission, the South African Police Service and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to probe the incident. 

“We need assurance that journalists can continue to do their jobs unhindered in all public circumstances, especially on such an important (elections) day in our democracy,” the deputy chairperson said. 

Meanwhile, the police have since released the journalist from detention.

NM/jn/APA

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