Parliamentary speaker bars brigadier who slapped journalist's cellphone away

06 March 2020 - 14:41 By TimesLIVE
A high ranking police officer approaches, moments before the cellphone held by a journalist at parliament was slapped away.
A high ranking police officer approaches, moments before the cellphone held by a journalist at parliament was slapped away.
Image: Twitter screengrab/Jan Gerber

National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise has issued a directive barring police officers accused of harassing journalists and MPs from performing any duties within the precincts of parliament.

This follows a complaint lodged with the speaker by the Parliamentary Press Gallery Association (PGA) after an accredited parliamentary correspondent, recording a conversation between DA leader John Steenhuisen and police, had his phone slapped away by a brigadier on February 25.

Journalist Jan Gerber said the brigadier approached him saying he had no permission to record the discussion and slapped the cellphone he was using. “She offered no reason for her actions,” the PGA said in a letter of complaint to the speaker.

“The PGA is highly concerned about the actions of this police officer. The video footage, which can be made available on request, depicts a senior commissioned SAPS officer conducting an unlawful act with no explanation.

“I brought these complaints to the attention of the minister of police and commissioner,” wrote Modise in a letter responding to the PGA on Thursday.

In addition she had an urgent meeting with the operational leadership of SAPS staff responsible for parliament.

“I also gave a specific directive for the member of the SAPS, who reportedly harassed several members and may have also been involved in the incident involving Mr Gerber, to not perform duties within parliament’s precincts forthwith,” she wrote.

Gerber said he welcomed the steps taken by Modise and “look forward to continue my work as a journalist at parliament without fear or favour. I believe it is of the utmost importance that MPs, parliamentary staff and journalists are allowed to perform their functions at the people's parliament without any interference.”


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