The SA National Editors' Forum is deeply concerned and alarmed at
reports of police obstruction of journalists at the Sebokeng
Magistrate's Court on Thursday December 13 when they tried to obtain
pictures of Virginia Tiny Makopo, a former dormitory mistress at the
Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls who is accused of abusing
girls at the school, according to a media statement.

It was reported that police pushed and shoved reporters so that they could not take pictures of the accused and verbally abused journalists and the photographers.

SANEF condemns this action by the police as totally unwarranted interference with journalists in the performance of their duties and notes that only a few days earlier a radio journalist trying to cover the overturning of a police truck transporting prisoners was also obstructed and arrested, only to have the case thrown out of court the following day.

There are growing instances of police obstruction of journalists and photographers which are clear breeches of Constitutional Press Freedom assurances. Such conduct is also in breech of police standing rules on how police should deal with journalists carrying out their duties.

Sanef calls on police commanding officers in the districts where these incidents occurred to institute investigations and to discipline those police officers found abusing their position.

Issued by: SA National Editors' Forum (SANEF)

For further comment please contact:

Jovial Rantao – SANEF Chairperson: 082 446 6008
Raymond Louw – SANEF Media Freedom Committee Chairperson: 011 646 8790 / 082 446 5155