The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) has expressed shock at an incident where a Ficksburg journalist was allegedly assaulted by members of the public order police.
Former SABC journalist Paul Nthoba is in hiding after police allegedly assaulted him in Ficksburg, in the Free State.
Nthoba, who owns a community newspaper, says he was working on a story about police visibility in the area and took a photo of police patrolling the area. He says when police officers saw him taking pictures, they allegedly started to insult and beat him.
Nthoba can be heard in a cellphone recording screaming and asking police officers why they are beating him.
Nthoba says the police beat him for doing his job.
He says he feels disgruntled and nowhere to run for help.
“I was on an assignment covering police visibility and took a picture of policeman and they started insulting me and accosted me, beat me up and I went. And I went to the police station to open a case. When I arrived there I was beaten up in front senior police officers. And currently, I’m hiding because I don’t feel safe with people with guns and badges are after me. So, they have the whole state machinery. And I’m just a alone somewhere there in the rural areas. Who is there to protect me?” explains Nthoba.
Nthoba went to open a case of assault at the police station and alleges that a police officer hesitated to open a case. He alleges that while he was at the station the same police officers followed him and allegedly beat him up again.
Nthoba says he does not feel safe anymore.
“Yes, I’m in hiding because they said who am I to think that I can open a case against the police and they are going to deal with me. So I’m scared. I Iive alone and our area is quite. I don’t know what would happen and that’s why I’m in hiding. I wish I could go out of the country, but the borders are closed. Who is there to protect me? And that’s my main worry. I keep on asking myself who is there to protect me? The police station is suppose to be a sanctuary,” says Nthoba.
Eye witnesses say the police usually park in the open area, that is a stone throw away from the Caledon River which is the border between South Africa and Lesotho.
Attempts to get a comment from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate on the incident has been unsuccessful at the time of publishing this article.
In the video below, Paul Nthabo says he is in hiding fearing the police: