SA journalist Sam Mkokeli feeding calls after being kicked out of the #ANC54 conference centre. SA National Editors Forum, Mahlatse Gallens, speaks with Mkokeli over the fence about what transpired when he got kicked out. PHOTO: Siphelele Dludla/ANA

In The News South Africa

“Thuggery against media” at ANC elective conference condemned

JOHANNESBURG, December 20 – The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Tuesday expressed “deep disappointment” with the conduct of security personnel at the elective conference of the African National Congress (ANC) in Johannesburg, after several journalists raised complaints of intimidation and assault.


“This regrettable act of thuggery should be nipped in the bud, and the perpetrators held accountable. Journalists are workers too and they should not be intimidated or forced to work in a climate of fear,” Cosatu national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said in a statement.
“We commend the ANC communications team for their swift response but we demand more to be done to ensure that the rights of journalists are respected. This conference should be about the restoration of unity of the ANC and the rehabilitation of its image, and these over the top acts of intimidation and harassment create a wrong impression about our ANC.”
Pamla said the ANC “should not allow few, over-exuberant people” to paint the whole organisation as a paranoid entity run by an unaccountable caste operating on the fringes of the law.
“The ANC is the leader of society and it should set an example through its actions,” he said.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s official opposition, the Democratic Alliance urged newly-elected ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa to make a stand against harassment of journalists by security aides.
“This is one of numerous such cases of journalists having been threatened or intimidated, with further reports circulating on social media – one of which included a reporter being punched in the stomach at ANC or national government events. Ramaphosa should not remain silent following police officers senselessly assaulting members of the press, and he must act swiftly to clarify whose orders they were acting on,” the DA’s shadow minister of police Zakhele Mbhele said.
“This is his first true test as president of the ANC. Unless he sends a strong message, we can expect his leadership tenure to be characterised by such incidents. In addition, [Police] Minister Fikile Mbalula has made it abundantly clear that his priorities lie closer to protection of his party and factionalism than they do to safety and security of ordinary citizens. The DA calls upon him to ensure that the identified SAPS members are disciplined by IPID as a matter of urgency.”
Mbhele said the incident in which accredited journalist and chairperson of South African National Editors’ Forum [Sanef] subcommittee on media freedom, Sam Mkokeli, was violently removed from the conference venue on Tuesday by SAPS officers serving as security personnel to Ramaphosa shows that the incoming ANC president “is merely a new face of an old organisation that will never change or self-correct”.


Sanef said the ANC had apologised after several accredited journalists covering the ruling party’s national elective conference in Johannesburg vociferously complained about being harassed and assaulted by the hordes of police officers and private security deployed at the venue.
The journalists’ complaints — including alleged incidents of a journalist being punched in the stomach, another disabled journalist on prosthetic legs being pushed down and a female journalist saying she was inappropriately touched on her breasts — prompted an intervention from Sanef which held a meeting with the ANC’s top officials.
“The meeting was very productive and the ANC has apologised for what happened today [Tuesday]. They will now try and get Mkokeli’s [Bloomberg journalist and chair of Sanef’s media freedom subcommittee Sam Mkokeli] accreditation back, after he handed it over to avoid being further manhandled,” said Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase.
“‪The ANC has requested journalists who have been ill-treated to report all incidents as soon as they happen so that they can attend to them. The ANC has also pledged to investigate today’s matter and speak to security about incidents of inappropriate behaviour and touching by marshals.”
However, the party also reported “security breaches” by journalists covering the conference.
“As Sanef, we will continue to ask for the ANC to be more transparent and allow a free flow of information. We are however appealing to our members to respect the security arrangements currently in place — as uncomfortable and undesirable as they may be,” said Gallens.
Several journalists covering the ANC event took to social media sites, particularly Twitter, to voice their displeasure at the heavy-handedness of security guards and South African Police Service officers at the massive gathering.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mkokeli was manhandled and thrown out of the conference in Johannesburg. His media accreditation tag was also removed following a scuffle with security personnel after he tried to lead a group of journalists from one venue to another.
This happened after journalists waited outside in the heat to be addressed by Ramaphosa, for more than 40 minutes following his walkabout of the conference venue.

 

 

 

The African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday apologised after several accredited journalists covering its 54th national elective conference in Johannesburg vociferously complained about being harassed and assaulted by the hordes of police officers and private security deployed at the venue.

SA journalist Sam Mkokeli feeding calls after being kicked out of the #ANC54 conference centre. SA National Editors Forum, Mahlatse Gallens, speaks with Mkokeli over the fence about what transpired when he got kicked out. PHOTO: Siphelele Dludla/ANA

The journalists’ complaints — including alleged incidents of a journalist being punched in the stomach, another disabled journalist on prosthetic legs being pushed down and a female journalist saying she was inappropriately touched on her breasts — prompted an intervention from the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) which held a meeting with the ANC’s top officials.
“The meeting was very productive and the ANC has apologised for what happened today [Tuesday]. They will now try and get Mkokeli’s [Bloomberg journalist and chair of Sanef’s media freedom subcommittee Sam Mkokeli] accreditation back, after he handed it over to avoid being further manhandled,” said Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase.
“‪The ANC has requested journalists who have been ill-treated to report all incidents as soon as they happen so that they can attend to them. The ANC has also pledged to investigate today’s matter and speak to security about incidents of inappropriate behaviour and touching by marshals.”
However, the party also reported “security breaches” by journalists covering the conference.
“As Sanef, we will continue to ask for the ANC to be more transparent and allow a free flow of information. We are however appealing to our members to respect the security arrangements currently in place — as uncomfortable and undesirable as they may be,” said Gallens.
Several journalists covering the ANC event took to social media sites, particularly Twitter, to voice their displeasure at the heavy-handedness of security guards and South African Police Service officers at the massive gathering.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mkokeli was manhandled and thrown out of the conference in Johannesburg.
Mkokeli’s media accreditation tag was also removed following a scuffle with security personnel after he tried to lead a group of journalists from one venue to another.
This happened after journalists waited outside in the heat to be addressed by newly-elected president of the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, for more than 40 minutes following his walkabout of the conference venue.

African News Agency (ANA),

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *