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Sat Oct 25 06:17:31 SAST 2014

Icasa upholds SAPS complaint about DA advert

Sapa | 26 April, 2014 08:43
The DA's Mmusi Maimane.
Image by: ESA ALEXANDER

A complaint by the SAPS regarding a DA election advert that contains a photo of a police officer shooting rubber bullets, was upheld by the Independent Communications Authority of SA said on Friday.

"The election period tends to bring about a lot of volatility. The police should not be seen as a threat to the community," chairman of Icasa's complaints and compliance committee Wandile Tutani said in Johannesburg.

"The offending part of the advert [must] be excised. That is our decision."

The Democratic Alliance's Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane, who was present at the ruling, disagreed, stating it was not right that conversation and commentary be restrained.

"It's an injustice and in fact we will be taking this decision under review at the high court."

Nick Ferreira, for the DA, told Icasa's complaints committee on Thursday that the photograph was authentic and taken in Bekkersdal, Westonaria, in March.

The SA Police Service welcomed Icasa's ruling late on Friday.

The SA Police Service contended the advert would incite violence against the police.

"In fact, the advertisement's footage is inaccurate and misleading as the two people shown in the image were never killed or shot at and no live ammunition was used," SAPS spokesman Lt-Gen Solomon Makgale said in a statement.

"The footage was carefully selected from one of Bekkersdal's illegal and violent protests where the police had to restore public order to protect the life of law abiding citizens and their property," Makgale said.

The police had argued to Icasa that that part of the advert would incite violence against the police.

"We are witnessing our police officers' homes being burnt to the ground, police officers are being attacked and murdered and these type of statements will serve only to fuel such attacks on our officers," Makgale said.

Maimane said the DA intended taking the matter to the high court.

The televised advert shows Maimane standing in front of a mirror talking about the current state of the country. At one point he states that "the police are killing our people". This is accompanied by a photo of a police officer firing rubber bullets at two unarmed people.

The DA argued the advertisement was a form of political criticism aimed at the current government.

"Look at what those in power have allowed the police service to become," Ferreira said.

"[The current national government] allowed the police service to become brutal and violent. It has allowed for an upsurge in police brutality."

There were no closing arguments as the commission, the DA and SAPS decided these would be submitted in writing by 3pm on Friday.

The commission watched additional footage the DA provided, describing them as examples of police brutality.

William Mokhari, for the police, said the DA would suffer no harm if it removed the photo and Maimane's line. He said it was important for the committee to consider how people would interpret the DA's message.

The advert was previously banned by the SABC after it was flighted on April 8 and 9. The public broadcaster said it incited violence.

The DA laid a complaint with Icasa, and a public hearing was held. The DA and SABC came to an agreement on April 16 after which the broadcaster again aired the advert.

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