Media in the firing line at student protests

Port Elizabeth – Students at NMMU and Wits University have harassed and threatened journalists covering their protests over the last two days.

On Tuesday, a group of students wearing EFF berets, and who were blocking the access to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s North campus, threatened to take a photographer’s camera away. A student photographer had his camera snatched away and the memory card removed.

Security guards warned reporters not to take photographs at that intersection, as other people had been threatened and had their phones taken away.

On Wednesday morning, a student wearing an NMMU SRC tracksuit told journalists they were not allowed to take photos of students protesting outside the residences.

“We have held a meeting and a resolution was taken that no photographs will be allowed,” he said.

Later, during a protests outside the 2nd Avenue campus, students chased away a reporter driving a local radio station’s branded vehicle. They accused the media of misrepresenting them.

Student leaders approached at the Humewood police station for comment after their peers were arrested also refused to speak to the media.

Journalist Stuart Graham said in Facebook post on Tuesday that students chanted “media must go” when he and his wife Renée tried to cover their protest at Wits University, in Johannesburg, on Monday.

“Today they threw bricks at journalists. Yet still this plea from Wits student leader Khuthadzo Ramukhadi: ‘Media, please assist, we are scared of police and are asking for you to act as a buffer so that we are not attacked’.”

Photographer Kim Ludbrook commented on Facebook that students should stop telling reporters to “fuck off”, to stop recording their protests, and racially abusing them. He was covering protests at Wits University.

“Oh and to the one student leader who told me to stop photographing him; while he was running down Empire Road harassing traffic and shooting a fire extinguisher at un-suspecting motorists; because ‘he did not want his parents to see him doing this, Mmmm maybe you should consider what you are doing first,” he said.



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