Ipid investigates 'assault' by police on journalist covering lockdown
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is probing an alleged assault of a journalist covering the lockdown in the Free State.
The journalist, based in Ficksburg, apparently fled for his safety to Lesotho after the incident on May 15.
The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) said earlier that Paul Nthoba was covering the visibility of police officers enforcing lockdown regulations when he was allegedly “physically abused and beaten up in the township of Meqheleng”.
Nthoba was allegedly prevented from opening an assault case and was instead told that he should be charged for contravening the Disaster Management Act.
“It is alleged that ... an adult male who is a journalist based in Ficksburg in the Free State was assaulted by [police] during Covid-19 operations,” Ipid said in a statement.
The journalist laid a charge of assault against the police, who in turn opened a case against him for allegedly contravening the lockdown regulations.
Ipid said an investigator met the journalist on Monday and agreed to have a follow-up meeting.
“However, when our investigator was trying to make contact, he could not reach the journalist as his mobile is always off. His relatives are not divulging the complainant’s whereabouts.”
Ipid said it would make arrangements for Nthoba's safety if it was confirmed that his life was in imminent danger.
“We have not yet made any arrest as we are still gathering evidence which will be presented to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for decision.”
Nthoba told Sanef that he decided to cross the border into Lesotho to seek refuge at the UN offices there, because he feared for his life after spotting police vehicles near his home.