Sanef, ANC officials meet over journalists’ treatment at Nasrec

The chairperson of Sanef's media freedom sub-committee Sam Mkokeli was manhandled by security personnel.

Sam Mkokeli manhandled by security at Nasrec. Picture: ShoeShoe Qhu/Kaya FM

JOHANNESBURG – The South African National Editor's Forum (Sanef) and the African National Congress (ANC) have met to discuss complaints about journalists being manhandled at the governing party's national conference.

It comes after the forum called for an urgent meeting with ANC officials to discuss the issues.

On Monday afternoon, the chairperson of Sanef's media freedom sub-committee Sam Mkokeli was man-handled by security personnel.

Mkokeli also had his accreditation revoked because he complained about the fact that reporters had been waiting for almost an hour for the newly elected president of the ANC to arrive for a scheduled walkabout.

WATCH: Journalist assaulted and ejected from #ANC54

He says he was shoved around and threatened with arrest because he complained about how he was being treated.

“He pushed me, man-handled me, assaulted me and escorted me out of Nasrec. He took my tag, now I don’t know where it is and what the case or crime is.”

LISTEN: Sanef's response to Mkokeli's incident

But Mkokeli says his treatment reflects a bigger problem: an atmosphere of hostility towards the press.

Sanef's Katy Katopodis said: “Sanef called for an urgent meeting with ANC officials, not just to discuss what happened with Mkokeli, but to talk about general security around reporters. We’ve had heard things are extremely problematic at the moment and we want to resolve this as a matter of urgency.”

LISTEN: Journalists manhandled by ANC security at Nasrec

Mkokeli’s incident has prompted other reporters to come forward with their own stories about heavy-handed security officials.

Sanef’s Mahlatsi Mahlase says the ANC has apologised for what happened.

“We’ve also had instances where the marshals in particular have pushed people as they try to enter or leave the plenary. So, we raised a whole list of issues with the ANC and I have to say, there was an apology.”

Sanef said in a statement that: “These include pictures which have been deleted, a journalist was punched in the stomach, another was pushed down and women journalists have reported being inappropriately touched by marshals inside the Plenary Hall."

The ANC has also flagged incidents in which some journalists were caught breaching conference rules in one way or another.

“They will now try and get Mkokeli's accreditation back after he handed it over to avoid being further manhandled,” the statement added. As Sanef we will continue to ask for the ANC to be more transparent and allow a free flow of information. We are, however, appealing to our members to respect the security arrangements currently in place - as uncomfortable and undesirable as they may be," the statement added.

Both parties have resolved to work together.

LISTEN: EWN's Masa Kekana gives an eyewitness account of Mkokeli attack