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Not to prejudge matters, because he may in fact be guilty of an offence, but Sunday Times’ journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika has been arrested by a gang of cops at the Avusa offices.
Whilst the charges are apparently related to a fraudulent document in his alleged possession, it doesn’t take a genius to see a possible connection between his arrest and the story that ran in the Sunday Times this week indicating that Commissioner Cele was involved in a dodgy real estate deal.
A clamp down on the media by the police in such a way is shocking and unjustified and speaks to a growing desire by the state, and thus the ANC, to muzzle those who expose its excesses and corruption.
Sunday Times senior reporter Mzilikazi wa Afrika got arrested today - "by a large number of policemen in an operation that was clearly designed to intimidate"
The arrest happened even as the country's leading journalists were meeting in the Avusa newspaper house building to discuss the proposed media law clampdown, under the aegis of Sanef (the SA National Editors Forum).
No doubt commentators will jump to conclusions as to the meaning of the arrest. It may be no more than a routine aspect of an investigation, although it would certainly appear to be orchestrated to intimidate SANEF and the media in general.
Cele has, in my opinion, grossly overreached here. This does not bode well for a free society or a democratic society for that matter. I do not see how a show-arrest such as this can be reconciled to our Constitution or our national desire for openness after the closed system of Apartheid.