Politics

UPDATE: Sunday Times goes to court to force release of journalist

By Andy Rice 5 August 2010

On Thursday night, the lawyers for the Sunday Times will ask the high court in Nelspruit to force the police to release journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika. In a statement on Thursday afternoon, the Sunday Times said it would seek an urgent interdict for wa Afrika's release after the arresting officers apparently refused to set him free.

TimesLive earlier on Thursday reported that a prosecutor at the Kwa Bokweni court near Nelspruit declined to pursue a case against Wa Afrika for lack of evidence. Sunday Times Editor Ray Hartley described this as “detention without trial”.

After relatively cautious statements on Wednesday and Thursday morning, the paper is now taking a hard line about the treatment of wa Afrika, and starting to ask questions about wa Afrika’s co-accused.

“We are extremely concerned about the well-being of a second ‘suspect’ in this case who was arrested more than 48 hours ago, but has not been brought to trial,” the Sunday Times said in the statement.

The statement echoed Hartley’s accusation of detention without trial, and reiterated that the intention of the arrest was to intimidate, rather than prosecute.

The Sunday Times previously called for direct intervention by Police Chief Bheki Cele and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa. The paper has now also called on President Jacob Zuma to “reassure the nation that it is not the intention of his government to use law enforcement agencies to launch an assault on the freedom of the press to operate.” Meanwhile the Democratic Alliance has promised to investigate the case via the parliamentary portfolio committee on police, which, in theory, has an oversight role over the South African police.

By Staff writer

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