#TimOmotoso : Assault case against Port Elizabeth journalists withdrawn

#TimOmotoso : Assault case against Port Elizabeth journalists withdrawn

The eNCA reporters allege that they were attacked by several church members when they visited the PE branch of the Jesus Dominion International Church.

The case against two journalists, charged with assaulting church members from the Jesus Dominion International Church in Port Elizabeth, was withdrawn by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on Tuesday due to insufficient evidence.

eNCA’s cameraman Nceba Ntlanganiso and freelance journalist Norhi Manona were initially meant to appear in court after they were informed last week that they were charged with assault by a church member.

The dropped charged relate to an incident which took place earlier in April, when three journalists visited the church in North End, following the dramatic arrest of a Nigerian pastor charged with human trafficking and sexual assault.

In attempt to get comment about the arrest of the Nigerian pastor, journalists visited the church. Upon arriving at the building they allege that they were attacked by an angry mob.

Following the alleged attack, journalists immediately reported a case at the Mount Road police station, and a counter assault case of assault was opened against Ntlanganiso and Manona.

Speaking to reporters at court on Tuesday, lawyer representing eNCA, Jackie Delport, said that they were informed by the control prosecutor that after video footage was viewed, the case against Ntlanganiso and Manona would not be enrolled.

“They are not proceeding with the criminal charges against the two journalists, but that footage clearly indicates the assault against Nceba from eNca,” said Delport.

Supporting the journalists at court on Wednesday, eNCA’s CEO Anton Harber, said that he believed that there was a rise in journalists being harassed, assaulted or threatened while out in the field doing their jobs.

“This is very concerning, we are in a difficult and tense time politically and the easiest target in those situations are often the messenger, the journalist. It’s very important to stand together to say if we can’t do our jobs then it affects everyone, it affects all our audiences, it affects the South African political situation,” said Harber.

“So we have to be very vigilant in making sure that authorities act on it and that’s why we are here today, to make sure that that those who are accused of assaulting, harassing our journalists face the law and face justice, because we have to send the message that it’s not acceptable. We are doing our jobs and we must be allowed to do our jobs, it is important to this country’s democracy that we are free to do our jobs.”

He added that the counter case of assault against the journalists was frivolous and simply a reaction on part of the church member.

“I think that all the evidence points to the fact that it was the journalists who were assaulted by church members, and I think we will see that emerge in court. I think that it validates our view that our journalists were just doing their jobs and they were the victims of assault,” said Harber.

Meanwhile, a 28-year-old church member, Lusapho Nqinileyo, appeared briefly in court on Tuesday, for allegedly assaulting Ntlanganiso and Manona.

eNCA reporters Sandy McCowen, Ntlanganiso and Manona allege that they were attacked by several angry church members when they visited the PE branch of the Jesus Dominion International Church to get comment about the Nigerian pastor’s arrest.

The journalists allege that they were kicked and hit outside the building, while McCowen said she was dragged inside the building and separated from her colleagues.

“I just about said hello and wanted to ask if we could speak to congregants to find out how they felt about the pastor being arrested – the next thing these guys descended upon us. They grabbed me by my arm, and they pulled me into the church and closed the doors. They pushed Nceba and Norhi outside,” McCowen had earlier said in a previous interview.

Manona claimed she was physically attacked and her equipment was damaged when a group of congregants descended upon her.

“I was punched in the mouth, and I actually felt my teeth shift,” she said.

The matter against Nqinileyo was postponed until July 6 for further investigation, he is currently out on warning.

– African News Agency

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Nigerians in South Africa
Nigerians in South Africa 1202 posts

We are about democracy, human rights, public opinion, political behavior, civil rights and policy aimed at improving the human condition, with a focus on African countries.

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