Kissing is not a crime
e.TV is “clearly a crime-kisser“, according to our gung-ho police commissioner Bheki Cele, for broadcasting a segment in which two criminals held forth on their plans to do what criminals do best, rob people and shoot anybody interfering.
Fearless journalism? Only if you believed that criminals and politicians would suspend their grubby ways and join hands with the rest of the nation in celebrating being overrun by drunken mobs of disenchanted football hooligans (with apologies to The Huffington Post). And yes, the cops should have and did make it a priority to catch these guys, which sent a clear message that South Africans, and the government, are fed up with crime and those who perpetrate it.
At the same time the police commissioner should think twice about his attack on journalists at SA’s only free-to-air TV station (read non state run). Issuing warrants to try and force journalists to identify their sources is counter-productive and contrary to the democratic voice of our country. It also sets a president which, if upheld, could severely influence future corruption cases as potential whistle blowers figure out that ‘journalistic privilege’ means jack and that their identities are at risk of being revealed.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has gone as far as to suggest that freedom of the press and editorial independence were not without limitations.
Pierre De Vos of http://constitutionallyspeaking.co.za/ points out that “the last time I checked section 16(1)(a) of the Constitution states that ‘everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom of the press and other media’. A journalist’s freedom to gather information and report it would be dramatically infringed if he or she could not keep the identity of their sources secret.”
MarkLives joins other media organisations in calling on the police commissioner to withdraw toss out the goodwill generated towards the police with this short sighted action.