Censorship in Cape Town VIDEOS

A riotous act* – that’s what Cape Town police employee Dejehar told me I would be brought to Central Booking for unless I complied with his demand to delete footage from my video camera.

Fortunately I was not caged, though Dejehar and his colleagues sought to intimidate Jacob Crawford and me because we had filmed them – public employees – in a public location, detained me for 20-minutes, and ultimately deleted footage from my camera.

Since arriving in Cape Town on Wednesday, August 28th – the third stop of the Police Accountability Tour – Jacob and I had already been out and about in some neighborhoods and thought we’d mix up our on the ground activities by visiting Long Street, a busy night spot that we thought might involve a police presence and well as good opportunities to do outreach.

About 30-minutes we saw a makeshift checkpoint being established near the southern end of the street. One passerby, who expressed his appreciation for our presence, said such checkpoints on Long Street were rare.

After documenting the police activities for about five minutes I decided to initiate a conversation with a nearby police employee – a plainclothes employee later identified as Dejehar who’d just moved a vehicle near to our location – to learn a bit more about the rationale for their actions. My question was ignored and Dejehar old me to go with him, grabbed at my camera (hitting the “Record” button on the exterior of the camera, which stopped the capturing of footage), and beckoned his colleagues.

A barrage of demands was levied at Jacob and I, and I was told to delete the footage. Jacob and I pointed out that we were in public and that they had no expectation of privacy. I was then yanked away and corralled toward the open door of police vehicle #116, which Dejehar drove, and told that I had two choices – delete the footage or be brought to Central Booking.

Dejehar and his colleagues attempted to push me into the vehicle. I encouraged those present to step back from the situation and realize that I had not harmed anyone and in fact, that I was well within my rights. and that it was they who were in the wrong.

Dejehar claimed that as he worked undercover, I had no right to film him, and referred me to “Section 36

section36-southafrica-patour2013

So some text on paper written by strangers can supposedly usurp ones rights? If a right can be so limited it’s not a right and the person is not free but a slave. I certainly don’t choose to adopt Dejehar’s justification.

If Dejehar didn’t want his status as an undercover known, why was he working in plain sight in conjunction with costumed Cape Town police employees? His claims and demands of me were conflated, done solely for intimidation.

I repeated refused to delete the footage on my camera, knowing full well that I was in the right. I too found solstice knowing that Jacob was nearby – across the street or on a dark corner, filming the interaction from afar.

My question, “Am I being detained?” was never answered.

After 20-minutes Dejehar’s demeanor changed. He became less overtly aggressive and instead, sought to instill upon me that since I hadn’t obeyed, he could have done X (kidnap and cage me, document the address where I was staying, take my camera) but chose not to as he didn’t want to mar my experience in South Africa. Is that true or did he finally conclude that his tactics wouldn’t find purchase?

It was only when I was told that I could leave that I inquired of Dejehar’s name. He’d noted twice that any attempt I made to file a complaint would not go far as he’d not acted in the wrong. I agree that it wouldn’t go far but reached that conclusion for a different reason – the fact that his colleagues would be folks doing the investigation. Dejehar stated his name fast and I asked him to spell it, which he did. I walked away and using an audio recorder, recorded his name for my records.

A minute later I received a call from Jacob, who I then learned, had left the scene shortly after we were separated to ensure his footage – which depicted Dejehar and his cronies – was safe. He had also begun to reach out to our lawyer contact and some very capable people on the ground.

Fortunately, thanks to some video recovery software Jacob had utilized before, the deleted clip was brought to light. Though it shows only the very start of the interaction had with Dejehar, it demonstrates the aggressive tone he took.

What does it say about the caliber of a person who claims to serve and protect but instead resorts to threats and censorship? What does it say about the institution for which Dejehar works when all of his colleagues on the scene didn’t only fail to deescelate the situation and make clear to Dejehar that he was in the wrong, but instead backed his actions and used and threatened the initiation of force?

Accompanied with cameras and others local, Jacob and I plan to follow-up on this incident with Dejehar’s colleagues this week. It will be interesting to see if, instead of acting in direct opposition as did Dejehar and his colleagues, they act aligned with their stated mission of bringing about “a safe and secure environment for all people of South Africa.”

help-fuel-the-police-accountability-tour-copblock

Cape Town Police Department

phone: 021 467 8000 /1 /2
email: CAPETOWN-SAPS@saps.org.za
URL: http://saps.gov.za

The Police Accountability Tour

http://CopBlock.org/Tour

Raw Footage

The footage below was recovered using Data Recovery 3

*a quick search for “riotous act South Africa” returned results that detail legislation that has since been repealed. The legalease originally existed under the auspices of deterring gatherings that were deemed to “endanger the public peace” (ie question the Statist Quo)

EPN

Pete Eyre

Pete Eyre is co-founder of CopBlock.org. As an advocate of peaceful, consensual interactions, he seeks to inject a message of complete liberty and self-government into the conversation of police accountability.

Eyre went to undergrad and grad school for law enforcement, then spent time in DC as an intern at the Cato Institute, a Koch Fellow at the Drug Policy Alliance, Directer of Campus Outreach at the Institute for Humane Studies, Crasher-in-Chief at Bureaucrash, and as a contractor for the Future of Freedom Foundation.

In 2009 he left the belly of the beast and hit the road with Motorhome Diaries and later co-founded Liberty On Tour. He spent time in New Hampshire home, and was involved with Free Keene, the Free State Project and The Daily Decrypt.

  • steve

    My friends and I had a discussion about your visit to South Africa. In this discussion we all concluded that you would meet resistance from the police and that you would be lucky if not jailed.You have no rights over their. It could get very scarey if you two were jailed. Good Luck be careful.

  • RadicalDude

    These guys just keep getting better and better, they are pushing the envelope on activism and journalism about as hard as anyone out there ever has.

  • certain

    @Steve – No shit. I’m all for cop blocking here in the states, but as you point out, laws and rights are completely different in other countries. Travel safely guys, there are things worse than jail to worry about.

  • steve

    Get us some real pictures of Africa ghettos, talk to the people there.

  • Pingback: Censorship in Cape Town VIDEOS - The Bat Country Word()

  • Casual Observer

    @Pete Eyer,

    It appears that Youtube is acting as an accomplice to the censorship of the video recordings related to this incident. Perhaps you might consider some other platform to host your clips, and employ a live streaming application on a telephone platform which supports that technology.