Press Club calls for probe into journalist’s arrest


The National Press Club has called for an urgent probe after a Newzroom Afrika journalist covering local elections in Soweto was detained by the police.

National Press Club Deputy Chairperson, Willem van de Putte, said the arrest of the journalist, who was doing his job, 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.

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

“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 doing his job.

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

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

He called on the Electoral Commission, the SAPS and IPID [Independent Police Investigative Directorate] to thoroughly investigate the incident.

“We need assurance that journalists can continue to do their jobs unhindered in all public circumstances, especially on such an important day in our democracy.

“We condemn the overzealous actions of the police and hope that the reporter, as well as his colleagues, managed to continue to do their jobs unhindered,” Van de Putte said.

The journalist was later released and he continued with his duties covering the elections.