Withdraw the section 205 subpoenas against eTV immediately

The National Press Club has called on authorities to immediately withdraw the section 205 subpoenas issued against etv group news editor, Ben Said, and reporter Mpho Lakaje following the screening of interviews with two self-confessed criminals. In a statement, chairperson of the National Press Club, Yusuf Abramjee said: “There has been lot of discussion and debate since these subpoenas were served. Editors and journalists have also expressed mixed views. “The intention with the subpoenas was to force the journalists to reveal the identities of the men who threatened to rob tourists during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The alleged middle-man apparently took his own life and one of the two men featured on etv was arrested on Thursday. The Hawks publically confirmed that they know who the second person is. “In view of these developments, there is absolutely no reason why Said and Lakaje should be hauled before a court. What information do the police need? The cops have it. “We call on the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa and National Police Commissioner, Bheki Cele, to immediately withdraw the 205 subpoenas. “On another issue, there is still an on-going debate as to whether etv should have screened the interviews with the two criminals who clearly taunted police and threatened violence. That’s a separate debate. But let’s also not forget that we enjoy media freedom in South Africa. Whether the screening was in the public interest or not is also to be considered. “There are certainly some lessons for us in the media out of the etv story. One of the big issues is whether or not we give blanket assurances to our sources before knowing the exact content and outcome of the interview. How do you protect the identity of someone, who for example, is going to plant a bomb…You cannot. Every case must be considered on merit and we need to be cautious going forward,” said Abramjee. The Press Club said it was “vital” for the police leadership to engage the South African National Editors’ Form (SANEF) and other media groups urgently to discuss section 205 in view of a long-standing agreement between SANEF and government on the use of this law against reporters.

NATIONAL PRESS CLUB SECRETARIAT Tel: +27 (0) 12 804 5199 ● Fax: +27 (0)12 804 6693 ● e-mail: info@junxionpr.co.za Chairperson: Yusuf Abramjee *e-mail: yusuf@702.co.za (0) 011 506 3470 *cell 082 4414 203