Swaziland police have been accused of torturing and detaining two television reporters.
The journalists, who work for Swaziland’s only independent television station Channel S, say they were arrested by police while they were following a story about a crime syndicate.
It is reported that police thought the journalists were part of the criminal gang. They were released without charge.
Now, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has asked police and other security agencies not to disturb journalists in their duties.
According to a report in the Swazi Observer yesterday (18 December 2008), Director of the MISA Swaziland Chapter Comfort Mabuza said if there were suspicions in the way journalists conduct themselves, the relevant entities should be contacted.
Mabuza also urged journalists to investigate stories and not rely on sources for information.
‘Do not run for a story without satisfying yourself that it is not foul play. Investigate a story and confirm it.’
Secretary General of the Swaziland National Association of Journalists (SNAJ) Timothy Simelane said the alleged detention and harassment of the two was unfortunate.
‘From what we have gathered so far, the journalists were on duty and had been promised a story yet this was not to be the case. However, no matter the circumstance, the police had no prerogative to harass them, nor detain them for so many hours.
‘Members of the public are also warned not to take journalists for a ride by promising them news, yet the motive is to abuse them to settle personal scores with opponents. Similarly, journalists are warned not to fall for scheming bogus sources, but to screen them first to avoid being taken for a ride.’
Simelane said the association would investigate the matter further.