15 May 2019

South Africa: Sanef Condemns Harassment of Journalists After Mayor Zandile Gumede's Court Appearance

The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) has condemned the harassment of journalists at the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on Tuesday where eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede appeared on corruption charges.

Journalists were prohibited from taking pictures of Gumede by supporters and police officers after she left the court where she was granted R50 000 bail.

She faces corruption-related charges linked to a R208m tender with the Durban Solid Waste Department.

"Sanef believes that these restrictions on the media undermined the constitutional principle of open justice," said Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase in a statement on Wednesday.

"This is a principle that calls for court proceedings to be open to the public - this includes allowing journalists to film and take pictures outside the court, during breaks and when formal proceedings have adjourned."

According to News24 journalist Kaveel Singh, Gumede's supporters threatened journalists following the court adjournment.

He said he was pushed, shoved and elbowed as well as blocked from taking any images as Gumede exited the court.

"However, what was even more problematic was that police sided with her supporters.

"They turned a blind eye to the harassment and then ordered everyone to leave the premises, including the media," said Singh.

The forum said it is the duty of the police to ensure journalists are able to do their jobs without interference.

"Sanef will be taking up the matter with the Commercial Crimes Court," Mahlase concluded.

Source: News24

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