The Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) has joined the chorus for police to drop charges against the Daily Sun photographer, Ricky Dire, who took photographs of police allegedly taking bribes from Chinese shop owners in Rustenburg.
Dire told the CPJ he had responded to a call from the store owners who told him they had on previous occasions routinely had to pay bribes to the local police. He said he took three or four photos of police talking to shopkeepers, and also record the number plates of the police vehicles. Police hit him repeatedly before arresting him and charging him with resisting arrest and intimidation. The photographer has now received death threats via SMS, he said. They deleted his photos and confiscated his cellphone.
North West Premier Thandi Modise has called on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to investigate alleged death threats made against Dire. Modise said these allegations were serious enough to warrant an investigation.
“If indeed they are found to be true, then those involved should be immediately suspended and stripped of their uniform. We cannot afford to have police threatening citizens behind the dignified blue uniform,” said Modise.
Police spokesperson Sergeant Kealeboga Molale had earlier confirmed that charges of intimidation, crimen injuria and resisting arrest were laid by the arresting police against Dire, who was released from police custody after the Daily Sun’s lawyers intervened.
In the meantime, the South African National Editors Forum wants to meet national police commissioner Riah Phiyega to talk about the alleged shooting and killing by police of photographer Michael Tsele during the water protests in Mothutlung, as well as the case of Dire. Sanef says an “urgent investigation” is needed into both cases.
“Sanef also calls on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to speedily complete their investigation into the actions of police at Mothutlung. 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,” it said in a statement.
The Daily Sun reported that its deputy editor Reggy Moalusi claimed shop owners had called Dire, alleging that the police were harassing them and asking for bribes.
“Sanef welcomes a statement by North West Premier Thandi Modise that she has called on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to probe the incident,” the forum said, adding that it was “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.”
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