The SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) on Wednesday (26/09/2012) expressed concern over journalists being forcibly removed from the court where axed ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema was appearing.
"We have asked the SAPS [SA Police Service] for an explanation and for an undertaking that journalists will be guaranteed access to the proceedings without the threat of harassment or intimidation,” Sanef said in a statement.
"Should reporters on the scene face further exclusion from the courtroom, or the use of force by SAPS or other security personnel, we will take legal action.” Earlier on Wednesday, journalists, photographers and television camera crews were kicked out of the Polokwane Regional Court where Malema was appearing on charges of money laundering.
Certain media houses made applications to be allowed into the court, but reporters were removed after officials insisted that the applications were for individuals and not crews. Pandemonium broke out when the journalists were forcibly removed. One was physically dragged out by two security guards.
Some journalists were later allowed back inside.
Sanef said it understood that only news camera crews and photographers had to apply for permission to use their equipment in court.
"But this was used as a pretext to compel the removal of all reporters, including print and radio journalists who were not in possession of such equipment,” it said.
"Some, but not all, were subsequently readmitted.” Sanef said the principle of open justice was fundamental to the credibility of the country’s legal system. - Sapa