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ANC says sorry after Manuel outburst

Published Dec 19, 2007

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By Wendy Jasson da Costa

The ANC has apologised for the treatment of journalists at its elective conference in Polokwane after umbrella-wielding Finance Minister Trevor Manuel knocked the lens off the camera of a press photographer and shoved another because he didn't want to be photographed.

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The SA National Editors' Forum was forced to take up the matter on behalf of 800 media workers from around the world.

When approached for comment on Tuesday, Manuel said he had "a reputation to protect" and that he had always worked well with "professional journalists".

Manuel said he had only tried to defend himself against the "paparazzi" on Tuesday morning when he was walking to his car and that he had not attacked the photographers.

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An Independent Newspapers journalist asked if he could be quoted, and Manuel agreed, but later pushed the journalist's arm away when a tape recorder was produced. He said permission to be recorded had to be sought, before a bodyguard intervened.

In a strongly worded letter on Tuesday, Sanef said it deplored the "apparent inadequate arrangements" the party had made to accommodate and facilitate the media's "smooth and effective coverage" of the most important political event in South Africa.

Sanef said the "scant attention" given to the media by the organisers was the root of the "boorish behaviour", particularly by certain security personnel.

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"Sanef particularly condemns the actions of ANC security personnel on December 17, 2007, in which several journalists and photographers were physically manhandled," said the organisation's chairperson, Jovial Rantao.

The ANC's Steyn Speed on Tuesday apologised for the incidents. "As the ANC, we regret that these sorts of things took place."

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