Pretoria: 26 August 2016: The Acting National Commissioner of Police, Lieutenant General Kgomotso Phahlane, his deputies, Deputy National Commissioner for Policing, Lieutenant General Sehlahle Masemola, and Deputy National Commissioner for Human Resource Management, Lieutenant General Bonang Mgwenya, yesterday met with a Sanef delegation led by its Chairperson Mahlatse Gallens.
The meeting, at the Sanef offices, followed a request by Sanef to discuss possible prosperous working relations between the SAPS and the media representatives. Amongst the points which were raised and discussed were:
– Allegations of attacks on journalists in which police had been implicated;
– The safety of journalists on the crime scenes;
– Access to information;
– Sensationalization of incidents/ information by the media;
– Requesting of information within a short period of time in order to meet deadlines;
– General journalistic ethos;
– The compilation and update of the guidelines to assist the two parties to work together
It was reported during the meeting that there were incidents which occurred over a period of time and included instances where police officers allegedly forced journalists to delete pictures from their cameras and physical manhandling of others such as the protest scenes and the behaviour of VIP Protection Services.
The Acting National Commissioner Lieutenant General Phahlane condemned attacks on journalists and said that the matter will be attended to internally to rectify the situation. He further highlighted that there were instances where the police worked exceptionally well with the journalist. “During the recent local government elections, we took the journalists with our chopper to Vuwani so that they could have a clear view of what was really happening on the ground,” he said. This was also acknowledged by SANEF as they mentioned that at certain instances, police do protect and assist journalists to render the work easily.
The meeting agreed to formalize existing agreements to enhance understanding between police and the media. These included arrangements for editors to be invited to address national, provincial and regional meetings of the SAPS leadership, and where possible also police recruits. Editors would in turn invite police officers into newsrooms to enhance their understanding of media operations.
The two teams finally agreed that they both need each other for the benefit of service delivery and the people of South Africa.
The Sanef delegation included its Media Freedom sub Committee chairperson Sam Mkokeli and Executive Director Mathatha Tsedu. Further meetings are to be arranged.