Independent Media political Journalist Sihle Mavuso was arrested outside the city hall during a protest by supporters of embattled mayor Zandile Gumede. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban - Independent Media political journalist, Sihle Mavuso who was arrested outside the Durban City Hall by Metro Police while covering a protest by supporters of Zandile Gumede on Thursday has been charged with assault and crimen injuria.

Mavuso was charged at the Durban Central Police Station and released after two hours.

He, along with television journalist, Siphamandla Goge were seeing being manhandled and roughed up by Durban Metro Police officers. Goge was not arrested.

Speaking to the Daily News shortly after he was released, Mavuso said he had not written a statement but was consulting with a lawyer hired for him by Independent Media.

He is also planning to challenge the charges by opening a counter charge against the police.

Mavuso said not only was he traumatised, but the video of him being manhandled and pinned to the ground by several police officers before he was thrown into the police van has left him humiliated.

“I am traumatised and humiliated. I was on duty and reporting what was happening. I feel that I was violated and restricted from doing my job. My family here in Durban and in Mpumalanga are worried and my brother who happened to be around Durban immediately came to the police station,” he said.

He said Independent Media editors, Aakash Bramdeo and Yogas Nair immediately rushed to the police station but were only allowed briefly to speak to him.

Freelance journalist Des Erasmus who captured the arrest on camera alleges that police did not know that Mavuso was a journalist. She says Mavuso was pushed into a Metro Police vehicle.

Mavuso said that he was pounced on by a Metro Police officer after they saw him taking a video of them arresting a Gumede supporter.

He said that during the scuffle with police he injured his knee, elbow and his neck was bruised from being put in a choke-hold. He also lost his bank cards and house keys . 

Mavuso sustained injuries to his body in the altercation and said that will be opening charges against the policemen who assaulted him as soon as the doctor's report has been finalised.

In a statement , Independent Media condemned, in the strongest terms, the harassment, intimidation and attacks on some of its journalists over the past few days.

In addtion to Mavuso, over the weekend, Piet Rampedi and Mzilikazi wa Africa from Independent Media’s investigative unit, lodged harassment and intimidation charges after being followed by unknown vehicles and individuals. Rampedi took photographs of the cars, which followed them.

 "Independent Media is gravely concerned by the increase in the harassment of journalists in South Africa.  For democracy to thrive, journalists must be able to operate without the fear of harassment, intimidation and threats of violence," the company said in a statement.

The South African National Editors' Forum has condemned the attack and manhandling of the two journalists.

Daily News