Johannesburg - Police should probe the shooting of a photographer, allegedly by police and an alleged assault on a journalist by police, the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) said on Thursday.
“(Sanef) is to request a meeting with police commissioner General Riah Phiyega to voice its concerns about police officers allegedly shooting and killing freelance photographer Michael Tshele during a service delivery protest in Mothutlung in the North West last week,” Sanef said in a statement.
“Sanef will request the commissioner to institute urgent investigations into the death of Tshele and an allegation by the Daily Sun that one of its journalists, Ricky Dire, was assaulted by police.”
Dire was allegedly assaulted by police after taking pictures of them allegedly accepting a bribe from Chinese shop owners in Rustenburg, North West, on Saturday, said Sanef.
On Sunday, City Press reported that Tshele was allegedly shot dead “in cold blood” by police officer because he had a camera in his hands.
Tshele was taking pictures of a protest in Brits over access to water that turned violent.
“Sanef also calls on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to speedily complete their investigation into the actions of police at Mothutlung,” it said.
“It would be a great shame and an embarrassment to South Africa's democracy if Tshele was indeed killed for taking pictures of a protest by poor citizens of this country.”
Meanwhile, the Daily Sun quoted its deputy editor Reggy Moalusi, who claimed that Dire had been called by the shop owners who had alleged that the police were harassing them and asking for bribes.
Moalusi said the police allegedly insulted and assaulted Dire on Saturday, confiscated his cellphone, deleted pictures from his camera and threatened to keep him in police custody.
The newspaper quoted police spokesman Sergeant Kealeboga Molale as saying that the arresting officers laid charges of intimidation, crimen injuria and resisting arrest against Dire, who they said was drunk. Dire denied the charges and that he was drunk.
Sanef welcomed the call by North West premier Thandi Modise for the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to investigate.
“Sanef is concerned at the growing number of allegations of police obstructing journalists while carrying out their duties and calls for a speedy outcome to the investigations it has requested,” it said.
Four people died in Mothutlung, near Brits, last week, during the violent protests against a water shortage.
On Thursday, Modise announced that a provincial executive council task team has been established to fight corruption in the protest-hit North West.
The team, which consisted of several MECs, would ensure that investigations into nepotism, fraud and corruption at municipalities in the province were concluded speedily, Modise said in a statement.
In Hebron, residents had been complaining about service delivery and called for the resignation of their ward councillor. They claimed the councillor neither listened to them nor addressed their grievances.