Citizen
National 25.4.2014 08.25 pm

Icasa upholds SAPS complaint on Citizen photo

A complaint by the SAPS regarding a DA election advert that contains a Citizen 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 photo was taken by Citizen photographer Alaister Russell in Bekkersdal during a protest.

FILE PHOTO: Police fire rubber bullets at residents at point blank range, 13 March 2014, in Bekkersdal, Westonaria. Residents protested by blockading streets and pelting police cars over an election campaign planned by the ANC. Picture: Alaister Russell

FILE PHOTO: Police fire rubber bullets at residents at point blank range, 13 March 2014, in Bekkersdal, Westonaria. Residents protested by blockading streets and pelting police cars over an election campaign planned by the ANC. Picture: Alaister Russell

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.”

On Thursday, the committee heard a complaint by the police against the DA’s election advert. The SA Police Service contended the advert would incite violence against the police.

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.

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

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.

The police argued that Maimane’s statement in the advert would “invite violent acts against the members of the SAPS”.

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.

Maimane’s statement would “inflame members of the public against the police”, he told the hearing.

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.

- Sapa

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