Durban - The South African National Editors' Forum has condemned the attack and manhandling of two journalists at the hands of Metro police in Durban while they were covering a protest in support of eThekwini Mayor.
Independent Media political journalist, Sihle Mavuso was attacked and detained by police while eNCA journalist Siphamandla Goge was also manhandled and roughed up by Metro police offers but was not arrested.
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 was released by police shortly after 11am.
Goge was also manhandled and roughed up by Metro Police offers but was not arrested.
People clad in ANC regalia have closed off the intersections around the Durban City Hall. Protesters have also closed off Dr Pixley Kaseme and Dorothy Nyembe Road and Anton Lembede Street. This caused major traffic congestion in the city centre during peak morning traffic. The protesters are surrounded by a large police contingent.
In a statement, Sanef said they were very disturbed to hear about the arrest and the attack on both journalists and also call on the eThekwini Municipality to investigate the matter and have the charges dropped.
"Sanef notes with concern the ongoing attacks, harassment and intimidation of journalists. We call on all elected leaders as well as the law enforcement authorities to take seriously the safety of journalists. We believe that any incident that hampers the safety of journalists must be taken seriously.
"This is not the first time that journalists covering matters relating to the mayor have come under attack. At previous protests, journalists were verbally threatened by supporters. Sanef calls on the ANC leadership in KZN to take swift action against their members who disregard the role of the media and continue to attack journalists," the statement said.
"Sanef reiterates that the media has an important role to play in our democracy and our constitution protects such a right. When journalists who report for public good, are attacked it means the public is robbed of information and of the truth.
"There are several channels for recourse if anyone has a grievance against a journalist or a publication/broadcast of a story. This includes talking to the Editor of the media house, filing a complaint with the press ombudsman for print and online, and or the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) for broadcast complaints".