Wow, the ANC hasn’t even passed the controversial, potentially media-muzzling “Protection of Information Bill” yet (and I pray that they will never be allowed to, otherwise this country is as good as screwed), and a local journalist has already been arrested.
About an hour ago, an acquaintance of mine who works at the Sunday Times, tweeted that one of her colleagues, Mzilika wa Afrika, had just been arrested for reasons that were unclear.
Is it merely a coincidence and completely unrelated that wa Afrika’s byline appears on a recent article exposing how South African police chief Bheki Cele apparently violated Treasury regulations by signing a R500 million, decade-long lease agreement deal with billionaire businessman Roux Shabangu to move police headquarters into a building owned by Shabangu? And that the deal was signed almost two months before Shabangu bought the building? And that the deal was done without any tendering as is required by the Treasury on all contracts over R500 000?
Just minutes ago, News24 reported the story of an unidentified Sunday Times reporter being arrested. In the News24 report, the reasons stated for the arrest is “fraud and defeating the ends of justice”. Somehow I don’t think this “fraud and defeating the ends of justice” wa Afrika (and we can assume that they meant wa Afrika, unless someone else has also been arrested) is being accused of has anything to do with unpaid traffic fines.
This entire story has me quaking in my boots. One thing is certain: If the ANC gets its wish and passes that bill, we can be sure that many more journos in South Africa will join wa Afrika behind bars for simply daring to do their jobs.
It will be interesting to see whether the other reporter who co-wrote the Cele story with wa Afrika meets the same fate.
Update: Sunday Times editor Ray Hartley has written a statement about wa Afrika's arrest.