A memorandum of understanding governing the interaction between the police and reporters signed 10 years ago will be updated and made relevant to the current times.
This is one of the resolutions taken between the SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) and the police after a meeting held on Thursday on a wide range of issues, including working relations between journalists and the police.
Sanef and the police agreed that the memorandum will be signed by September after updates to it. The meeting agreed to establish a team with representatives from both the police and Sanef to unpack the memorandum of understanding.
“It will recommend a programme of action that includes training for journalists on crime scene etiquette and training for police officers on the critical role of the media in covering crime and protests,” Sanef and the police said in a joint statement.
The Sanef delegation, led by its deputy chair Katy Katapodis, met the police delegation led by national police commissioner Gen Khehla John Sitole.
Sanef tabled concerns regarding the hindrance and harassment of journalists in courts, around the country as well as the media’s experiences of harassment and injury by police members while in the field covering the coronavirus crisis.
In turn, the police tabled concerns regarding some members of the media obstructing police in their course of duty.
The meeting agreed that despite specific serious incidents, the relationship between journalists and the various units of the police was primarily mutually cordial, reflecting the spirit of co-operation between the media and the police.
“The meeting agreed that this showed that both journalists and police officers can do their jobs without confrontation and that it is possible for both parties to respect their various roles out in the field.”