South Africa-Based Media Coverage of Attempted Cape Town Police Censorship

cape-town-times-live-coverage-patour2013The post below, by Quinton Mityala titled Shooting cops ‘nearly led to arrests,’ was originally posted to published to TimesLive.co.za on 2013.09.04.

It is reposted here to share with readers of CopBlock.org because it includes comment by Cape Town police employee Andre Traut about an interaction Jacob Crawford and I had with other Cape Town police employees last weekend, which was recapped on the post Censorship in Cape Town VIDEOS [below in full].

Mityala write-up cites a conversation had with Cape Town police spokesperson Andre Traut:

Police spokesman Andre Traut said there was no record of the incident at the Cape Town central police station. He said while members of the public were not prevented from filming or taking pictures of police in a public road, in terms of the Criminal Procedures Act, they could be arrested if they filmed police in the process of arresting a suspect.

The first portion of Mr. Traut’s statement is commonsensical, yet latter portion is ludicrous. To say that it’s perfectly fine to document the actions of public employees in a public space unless and until those public employees initiates the arrest of another is without absurd.

Mr. Traut’s statement – saying an action is permissible unless he or his colleague deem otherwise – is undoubtedly couched on his desire to protect the Cape Town police as in institution. On one hand, he holds out a carrot to those who want to see a non-corrupt, non-thugish, double standard-free Cape Town police department (as facilitated through the objectivity of a camera lens, in acknowledging the right to film) but behind his back he holds a club (the threat of being caged for filming).

Obviously Mr. Traut is not ignorant. He recognizes that when a journalist, businessperson, construction worker, waitress, or anyone uses a camera to record police actions, there exists the chance that they might capture and thus be able to make transparent some less-than-savory behavior.

But if Mr. Traut was truly concerned about protecting his colleagues and actually serving and protecting those in the community, he would welcome the objective documentation presented through a camera as it would help to oust heavy-handed police, thus improving internal morale and community relations. Not to mention that filming police actions could help safeguard his colleagues as well in case someone were to initiate force against them.

At the end of the day we must ask ourselves, who seeks to gain from the censoring of information? Those acting professionally or those acting in the wrong?

I look forward to Mr. Traut’s acknowledgement that Cape Town inhabitants have the right to film police employees in the course of their duties.

_______________________

Shooting cops ‘nearly led to arrests’

by Quinton Mityala, published to TimesLive.co.za on 2013.09.04
http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2013/09/04/shooting-cops-nearly-led-to-arrests

cape-town-police-cruiser

Pete Eyre and his partner Jacob Crawford landed in the city last Wednesday to bring their “Police Accountability Tour” – filming cops on the job – to South Africa.

Eyre said he filmed police officers in Long Street manning a road block on Saturday.

Eyre said an “undercover officer” at the scene warned him that if he did not delete the footage, he would be arrested for “riotous behaviour”.

Eyre said the officer identified himself as “Dejehar” .

Eyre told Cop Block, a website that reports on police brutality and corruption, that the cops yanked him towards a police vehicle and told him he had ” two choices – delete the footage or be brought to Central Booking”.

Eyre later used computer software to recover the footage and posted it on YouTube.

Police spokesman Andre Traut said there was no record of the incident at the Cape Town central police station. He said while members of the public were not prevented from filming or taking pictures of police in a public road, in terms of the Criminal Procedures Act, they could be arrested if they filmed police in the process of arresting a suspect.

_______________________

Censorship in Cape Town VIDEOS

by Pete Eyre, published to CopBlock.org on 2013.09.02
http://copblock.org/censorship-in-cape-town

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: 27 21 467 8000
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)


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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.