Freedom of expression group Right to Know (Right2know or R2K) will be meeting with the top brass of the Saps communications division this week to discuss the legality of recording police activities by citizens and media practitioners.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the two parties would be meeting at police headquarters on Friday. The meeting would not be open to members of the media nor the public, Rekord East reported.
“We will be meeting with R2K’s media freedom organiser, Micah Reddy, as he was the one who wrote a letter to us. The media will not be allowed in this meeting. It is a closed meeting between us,” Mulaudzi said.
Reddy described the impending meeting as being long overdue and “a step in the right direction”.
“The campaign has been running for a while after we had witnessed citizen journalists being arrested by police,” Reddy explained.
With numerous cases of police brutality recorded by citizen journalists — such as the case of Mozambican citizen Mido Macia, who was tortured by police officers — R2K said they saw the importance of protecting people who recorded such incidents.
“Police are not allowed to prevent journalists or citizen journalists from doing their job or recording police activities,” Reddy said, referring to the police’s standing order 156, which highlights the rights of journalists or media representatives and how police should conduct themselves when in the presence of the media.
He added there were exceptional cases where such recordings by a media representative or citizen journalist could be prevented, such as taking photos of a police cell.
Last year, Gauteng police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said there was nothing legally preventing members of the public or the police from recording exchanges between one other.
“But [the recording of such conversations] may not be used as evidence unless the other party was notified of such recordings,” Dlamini added.
Reddy said R2K has been pushing for citizen journalists, and not just accredited professional reporters, to be included and protected by standing order 156.
“This will provide more accountability and oversight over police activities,” Reddy said.
Also read: Nothing wrong with recording cops – police
– Caxton News Service