Heavy handed security tactics against the media at the 54th African National Congress (ANC) National Conference have come into the spotlight after a journalist was manhandled and kicked out of the venue.
Senior Journalist and South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) media freedom subcommittee chair, Sam Mokokeli was violently manhandled by security during a walk-about by Cyril Ramaphosa when he rejected to being made to wait for too long, and wanted to leave.
He was violently pushed around and his credentials removed earlier by security guards who also forced him out of the venue.
Watch below the video of the incident:
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Mokekeli says the problem is not just this incident but the way security personnel have been dealing with the media in general during the conference.
He says another journalist was punched in the stomach; another one had the pictures taken on his camera deleted by security.
“Another colleague was pushed to the ground by security staff and his prosthetic legs came out in the process,” says Mokokeli.
He says the environment is hostile to journalists and officials do not care.
“Officials do tell us that they do not care about us and democracy. They only care about security.”
He says the ruling party must create an environment that enables journalists to do their work.
“They have invited us to this very important conference, we want to be able to walk around without harassment and intimidation.
Listen to Mokekeli’s full response below:
Sanef held an urgent meeting with the ANC after the incident and the ruling party apologised. Chairperson of Sanef, Mahlatse Mahlase says the ANC also says it did not know about any other complaints and urged other journalists to report incidents of abuse by security immediately.
“I have to also mention that they did raised concerns that there was a security bridge by some reporters as well and I was not aware of all the details. But of course they have asked us to respect the rules they have created,” says Mahlase.