British journalist Simon Wright, who was accused of orchestrating a security breach at the English team’s dressing room, has been declared an “undesirable” person and barred from entering South Africa.
Wright paid an admission of guilt fine of R750 on a charge for contravening a section on the Immigration Act on Saturday.
According to the Department of Home Affairs, Wright has now been declared an undesirable or prohibited person and will not be allowed back into South Africa, reports BuaNews.
Police claimed that Wright was behind the trespassing incident at the Cape Town stadium shortly after England and Algeria played to a draw. English fan Joseph Pavlos made headlines locally and internationally when he found his way into the English team’s dressing room and allegedly criticised the player’s performance. Pavlos was arrested and has also paid a R750 admission of guilt fine.
Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele has said that Wright, a reporter with the Sunday Mirror, admitted to harbouring and interviewing Joseph at a time when police were looking for the English fan in order to arrest him. Cele said the analysis of CCTV footage and initial investigations into the breach of security had led police to believe that the dressing room incident was planned and involved the cooperation of a number of individuals.
The police’s National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) said the case against Wright was set down for trial but his lawyer said that the journalist was prepared to admit guilt on a charge relating to him trying to book a room at the Cape Town Hotel under an assumed name.
“Wright paid the admission of guilt fine and, as the matter had been administratively dealt with, the other two charges – attempting to defeat the ends of justice with an alternative charge of fraud – automatically fell away and the trial was removed from the court roll,” NATJOINTS said.
The journalist now has a criminal record in South Africa. Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa welcomed the outcome of the case, saying it was a victory for the criminal justice system.
“Wright’s admission of guilt is indicative that some journalists will do anything to get a story, even commit a criminal act. We are a sovereign country, with laws that must be upheld by all citizens, as well as all visitors,” the minister said.