A Citizen reporter learned from a police “spokesperson” today that all journalists must apparently physically visit a police station to make media enquiries.
This was according to a member of the Lyttelton Police Station, who, with a detectable slur in his voice, said the station’s communications officer, Hero Gumbu, was indeed in the same room as him but would not take an enquiry as it was procedure that a member of the media be physically present at the station in order to be given information.
The Citizen’s Caxton News Service desk was attempting to gain more information on the story of a woman who had narrowly dodged a bullet in Irene, Centurion, in Gauteng, but it was not clear what had led to the shoot-out or who had been involved. It was this information the reporter was attempting to verify.
The call was ended, with the reporter believing he had made a mistake and would be able to reach Gumbu at the second try. The unnamed standby officer was on the line again.
After clarification that the call was a media enquiry and not to report a criminal case, the man who refused to identify himself continued to insist that the enquiry had to be made directly at the police station and could not be done telephonically.
“Is it impossible for you to come to the station?” the officer asked, to which the reporter responded that, given the time constraint and inconvenience, it was impossible.
“Impossible? But the station doesn’t move,” he declared.
There was a long silence on both ends of the line before the officer chose to hang up.
The Citizen decided to investigate if, indeed, police have, without any fanfare, decided to hire media officers whose jobs entail the abandonment of all forms of instant, deadline-conquering communication in favour of only face-to-face interaction.
Were this true in the 21st century, it would be quite the story, and we were wondering how we missed the press release about the new communication protocols.
However, it seems Gauteng’s provincial police spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini, was not briefed on this either and confirmed that, to his knowledge, a media enquiry could still be done telephonically or via email.
Regarding the question of the circumstances surrounding the shoot-out, Dlamini was finally able to give The Citizen the info we needed, namely that a shoot-out occurred on Wednesday in Irene between police and suspected car thieves.
The bystander was lucky to avoid the bullet.
“There were no arrests, but police recovered a stolen car in Sandton,” he said.
– Caxton News Service