An unrepentant Zandile Gumede told her supporters that when she took over office in 2016, she emulated former president Jacob Zuma and implemented RET policies. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban - The South African National Editors’ Forum has condemned the police official who barred journalists from using electronic devices, including laptops and taking pictures inside the Durban Commercial Crimes court during the appearance of former eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede and her co-accused.

The forum is planning to meet with provincial commissioner,  Lieutenant-General Khombinkosi Jula to discuss the incident.

Gumede and her co-accused are facing a number of charges relating to an apparent dodgy Durban Solid Waste tender, which has now increased to R389 million. 

The case was adjourned to April 16 2020 for the state to conclude its investigation.

Some members of the media were locked out and told that only ten media accreditation were issued and no more media was allowed inside to cover the court proceedings.

Police officers blockaded the entrance of the courtroom and denied the media access.

Katy Katopodis Sanef acting chairperson, said it had come to their attention that the officer told journalists that they were not allowed to use the devices that they needed to report the story with as tools of their trade although this was not the decision, or the order of the presiding magistrate and members of the public were using their phones throughout the court proceedings.

News 24 journalist Kaveel Singh said: “I was told if I did not switch my laptop, I would be kicked out of the courtroom. He (Officer) said he could kick me out right now and that I don’t have the right to be there. I was also asked to speak to the prosecutor who agreed that we could bromide our equipment.” said Singh.

Katopodis said SANEF believes it is time that Minister of Justice and Correctional Service Ronald Lamola to impress upon his counterparts in the security cluster that all state organs seek to protect journalists and stop this gross violation of the Constitution.

“The prevention of journalists from covering court proceedings infringes on the right of freedom of expression enshrined in Section 16 of our Constitution. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of the press and other media' and “freedom to receive or impart information or ideas,” said Katopodis.

Daily News