Independent Media has condemned recent attacks on, and the harassment and intimidation of some of its journalists after Sihle Mavuso, who works for the company’s political bureau, was assaulted and apprehended by Durban Metro Police on Thursday.
Mavuso had been covering a protest by supporters of suspended mayor Zandile Gumede at the Durban City Hall with freelance journalist Des Erasmus who recorded the incident on video. The footage shows law enforcement officers manhandling Mavuso before bundling him into a Metro Police vehicle. He was released from custody a short while later.
An eNCA journalist, Siphamandla Goge, was also manhandled by Metro Police officers but was not arrested.
Independent Media said it was "gravely concerned by the increase in the harassment of journalists in South Africa.
"For democracy to thrive, journalists must be able to operate without the fear of harassment, intimidation and threats of violence."
Over the weekend, Piet Rampedi and Mzilikazi wa Africa from Independent Media’s investigative unit, lodged harassment and intimidation charges after being followed by unknown vehicles and individuals. Rampedi took photographs of the cars which followed them.
The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has expressed serious concerns over both incidents.
"Sanef notes with concern the ongoing attacks, harassment and intimidation of journalists. We call on all elected leaders as well as the law enforcement authorities to take seriously the safety of journalists. We believe that any incident that hampers the safety of journalists must be taken seriously," the body said in a statement on Thursday.