165 05-03-2012 A crime scene in Orlando East, Soweto were a security guards escorting a tobacco delivery truck was shot dead and another critically injured and died later in hospital. Picture: Tiro Ramatlhatse

While The Star was covering the guards’ shooting, photographer Tiro Ramatlhatse was stopped from taking pictures and had his camera confiscated by the police.

Ramatlhatse went around a cordoned-off area and took pictures from the backyard of a house near the crime scene.

Suddenly, a burly police officer, who had his name tag hidden behind a bullet-proof vest, approached him and asked: “Do you know that what you are doing is against the law?”

The officer then grabbed the camera from him.

“I explained to him that there was no police media liaison at the scene and I had taken pictures from outside the police line. I showed him the pictures and explained that all that could be seen was a hand of the deceased man,” he said.

“He threatened to throw my camera away, but he found the delete button and fiddled with it, deleting at least two pictures. He passed the camera to me and ordered me to delete the rest, but I refused.”

Ramatlhatse was then led to a Flying Squad car, in which his camera was placed. He was ordered to leave.

He kept pestering an officer seated in the car for his camera, and the cop eventually gave in.

Provincial police spokesman Neville Malila said “We constantly indicate to our officers that they should not confiscate journalists’ equipment if they are outside the cordoned-off areas… We will investigate.” - The Star