THE father of journalism in the United States, Hungarian-born newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, once said: "Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light."
Pulitzer embodied freedom of the press. He appreciated the role played by the media in society in ensuring that people's lives are respected.
In the same vein, President Jacob Zuma has committed us to ensuring that all legislative hindrances are removed for the police to serve and protect the citizens. As part of the fight against crime we have mobilised the communities to rid ourselves of the cancer in our midst completely. We stated fully that any friend of a criminal is a criminal.
That is why on November 25 last year the Ministry of Police tabled a motion in Parliament to reduce the number of illegal firearms . This was informed, among other things, by a huge number of firearms-related incidences, especially in housebreaking and carjacking . As a result the period between January 11 and April 11 2010 was declared Firearm Amnesty . Any person who possesses any illegal firearm and-or has information about where we can retrieve any hidden firearms can visit their nearest police station.
On January 15, four days after the launch of the Firearm Amnesty period, 80000 firearms were destroyed in public. Moreover, while the country is still waiting for all those who want to submit their firearms, lack of responsibility prevailed within our society in promoting and encouraging crime, using the media as a platform.
On Friday January 15 in its news programme, e.tv broadcast a piece that was regrettable and reckless. Through this material the station afforded marauding criminals prime time to advertise their cheap plots to rob, kill and maim innocent people and, above all, embarrass the country just less than 150 days before the Fifa 2010 World Cup.
All this was done under the pretext of freedom of the press. Thanks to members of the Hawks, sanity prevailed with the arrest of one of the suspects.
Media platform and its freedoms are part of the battles won against apartheid and it pains us, and those who came before us in the fight against apartheid, when any media institution defines itself outside the solutions to the South Africa problem.
Any media institution that acts in a manner that promotes thugs is actually part of the problem. How many other like-minded thugs will emulate the "e.tv thugs"?
We are trying to build a society of peace. What e.tv portrayed is not the freedoms that the likes of Nat Nakasa, Percy Qoboza, Charles Nqakula, Aggrey Klaaste and Zwelakhe Sisulu fought for.
Ever since Africa, specifically South Africa, won the rights to host the 2010 Fifa World Cup, enemies of Africa have been preaching other messages of "we are ready to host the World Cup when South Africa fail", presenting a Plan B.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter reaffirmed that Fifa had no Plan B. Others even used the Cabinda, Angola, incident to cast a shadow of doubt on South Africa's security ability to host the World Cup.
We, however, would not want to suspect and believe that the piece of journalism produced by e.tv is a sponsored and-or embedded journalism with those who are against the prosperity of our country. It will be wrong and inhumane for e.tv to connive with those who hate South Africa.
We are not saying the media should be our mouthpiece. No! For e.tv to air that piece, honestly they did not believe and understand that they not only caused mayhem in the country but misled these thugs by not informing them that what they are doing is in breach of Section 1 (B) Intimidation Act which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years and again they breached Section 1 A(1) Intimidation Act which carries maximum penalty of 25 years.
The fight against crime is a joint effort; hence the police have established partnerships to fight crime in society. e.tv should come to the party.
South Africa recognises and respects the freedom of the press, and respects rights of all South Africans and those who live in it. Press freedom is not above the constitution. e.tv should know that. Pulitzer teaches every journalist to act "on it so we'll and be guided by its light".
e.tv lights in Pulitzer are off. The door for constructive engagement with the e.tv editorial team is wide open. The fact that they are lost does not mean we should not look for them. We need e.tv to strengthen the fight against crime.
SAPS, with the assistance of countries like the US, France and others, has been hard at work preparing our country for any eventualities, be it on land, air and sea. The state commits to a safer World Cup where there is an increase in personnel to arrest any situation that might arise including the "e.tv thugs".
Ancient Greek general and statesman Pericles taught us that "what you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others".
l The writer is Deputy Minister of Police