Standard Bank apologises for its security personnel's assault on journalist
A Daily Maverick journalist was assaulted, intimidated and manhandled by security at Standard Bank's head office while covering a protest
Standard Bank has apologised to the Daily Maverick after its security staff assaulted and manhandled a journalist who was at the corporation's Johannesburg offices to cover a protest.
On Tuesday, the media house's Lerato Mutsila was covering an Extinction Rebellion protest at the bank's Rosebank headquarters when the incident took place.
Security guards confiscated her phone and when it was returned, she found pictures and videos of the protest, as well as some personal files, had been deleted. A case of assault and unlawful deprivation of property was opened with the police.
The South African National Editor’s Forum (Sanef) met Standard Bank officials on Friday to discuss the matter.
In the meeting, it was noted that Standard Bank had issued a letter of apology to the Daily Maverick earlier that day and that the media house had accepted this and agreed to meet the bank early next month.
Among agreements arrived at during the meeting was that journalists’ work needs to be respected and they should be afforded the space in which to perform their duties, said Sanef chairperson Sbu Ngalwa.
“Further, the rise in threats, intimidation and harassment of particularly women journalists needs to come to an end,” he added.
There was mutual respect in the meeting and the importance of the role played by the media in tough environments was acknowledged.
Standard Bank CEO Sim Tshabalala applauded Sanef for the direct, firm, honest, respectful and humane way in which the matter was approached.
“We appreciate the opportunity extended by Sanef to engage with Standard Bank. We hold the media in very high regard and reaffirm our commitment to supporting freedom of the press. A free media is a central pillar of our constitutional democracy. Equally, a free and unhindered media is needed to create and maintain the conditions for inclusive and sustainable economic growth,” Tshabalala said.
The meeting also touched on protocols required to ensure journalists are safe when doing their jobs, while Sanef emphasised the importance of prior engagement when media personnel attend volatile situations that involve protests and conflict.
Sanef reiterated that Standard Bank should ensure its security officers do not physically harass and intimidate journalists again.
Tshabalala said the bank is committed to supporting economic and human development.
“We are, therefore, a firm and steady supporter of the rule of law and of media freedom. We will continue to defend and uphold these fundamental rights,” he said.
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