Sanef demands justice for Mothotlung death


National police commissioner Riah Phiyega. The structure of crime intelligence in the SA Police Service has been changed, Phiyega said.

JOHANNESBURG – Sanef has called on National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega to probe the shooting of a photographer and alleged assault on a journalist by police officers.

In a statement released on Thursday, Sanef (South African National Editors Forum) requested a meeting with Phiyega to express their concerns about the alleged incident which saw freelance photographer Michael Tsele being shot dead by police at Mothotlung, North West.

Another allegation against the police by Daily Sun was that one of its journalists Ricky Dire was assaulted after taking pictures of them allegedly taking a bribe from Chinese shop owners in Rustenburg, North West on Sunday.

City Press reported on Sunday that Tshele was allegedly shot dead “in cold blood” by police officers because he had a camera in his hands.

He was taking pictures of a water protest that turned violent.

An eyewitness told the newspaper Tshele did not have any weapon in his hands. “The only threat he posed was that his camera was recording evidence of what the police were doing,” City Press reported.

Sanef has also called on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) to speedily complete their investigation into the actions of police at Mothotlung.

“It would be a great shame and an embarrassment to South Africa’s democracy if Tshele was indeed killed for taking pictures of a protest by poor citizens of this country,” Sanef said.

The Daily Sun reported that its Deputy Editor Reggy Moalusi claimed that Dire had been called by the shop owners who had alleged that the police were harassing them and asking for bribes.

The police insulted and assaulted him, he said, adding that the police confiscated his cellphone and deleted the pictures from his camera.

He was reportedly threatened to be kept in police custody until Monday but the paper called its lawyers and he was released five hours later.

Sergeant Kealeboga Molale was reported as saying that the arresting officers laid charges of intimidation, crimen injuria and resisting arrest against Dire, who they said was drunk.

Dire denied the charges and that he was drunk.

“Sanef is concerned at the growing number of allegations of police obstructing journalists while carrying out their duties and calls for a speedy outcome to the investigations it has requested.”