Editors' forum wants investigation after Newzroom Afrika reporter shot
The SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) has asked for an inquiry after a Newzroom Afrika reporter was injured during a protest at Kanyamazane, Mbombela, on Monday morning.
There was a standoff between police and taxi operators from the early hours of the morning over the taxi operators' demand to carry passenger loads at full capacity, in defiance of Covid-19 regulations. The law states taxis should not be more than 70% full..
Sanef has condemned the shooting of Mweli Masilela, as related to them by the reporter.
“I had just finished doing interviews with some taxi drivers who were protesting and blocking the main road leading into the Kanyamazane township. I was taking visuals of the blockade when police arrived on site and started firing rubber bullets.
“I was clearly visible carrying a video camera and tripod. That's why I don't understand why they had to shoot me. They didn't even give a warning for people to retreat. They just shouted "move, move" and fired, and that's when one rubber bullet hit me,” Masilela told Sanef from the hospital in which he was examined.
Just got shot while covering the #TaxiShutdown in KaNyamazane in Mpumalanga. Police fired rubber bullets just a few minutes after arriving in the area to disperse taxi drivers who were blocking the road leading to the township. 😭😭 pic.twitter.com/uuh9ZLqptC— Mweli Masilela (@mwelimasilela) June 29, 2020
Masilela has opened a case against the police.
Sanef believes police should have given reporters and protesters sufficient warning before opening fire. The forum said police should also have given journalists time to find a safe space before indiscriminately firing in their direction.
Mahlatse Mahlase, Sanef chairperson, said Sanef called on police leadership to take swift action and investigate the matter to identify and discipline those who compromised everyone’s safety.
“Further, we believe public officials should respect the role of the media in our democracy. We intend to raise the matter with the national police commissioner in our upcoming meeting,” Mahlase said.
Mpumalanga police spokesperson, Brig Leonard Hlathi, said the matter was under investigation by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).