"We are warrants ourselves", DIS invades Mmegi.

Mmegi Editor Ryder Gabathuse
Mmegi Editor Ryder Gabathuse

When informed that Mmegi as a media house has protocols around entry and that they could not enter without a warrant, one officer said: “I am a warrant myself”. The agents were clear that they are a law unto themselves and operate above the basic tenets of the law such as the production of a warrant to gain entry and another warrant to detain anyone for questioning.

Gabathuse’s remonstrations about the process of law were similarly dismissed with contempt as where Mmegi staff questions about the timing of the visit, the reasons for it and why the officers were seemingly immune to the requirements of natural justice. The only courtesy shown to Gabathuse was to allow him to lock up his office and quickly grab some belongings, before they whisked him away to a destination unknown to his staff and for reasons similarly undisclosed. In fact, the officers appeared keen to confirm the local media’s long held fears that the very profession of journalism is some form of an offence to the security apparatus – at least judging by the timing of the visit, the attitude of the officers and their conduct.

The actions against Selatlhwa, Gabathuse, Mmegi and indeed the broader media industry do confirm that elements within the country’s law enforcement hold journalism and the rights of individuals within that profession, in low standing. This is shocking not least because it comes as government frequently professes its commitment to protect media from intimidation and to guarantee media freedom, but also a few months after the recent Press Freedom Day, an event endorsed and attended by government.

The timing of this visit, at the height of the deadline day and involving a senior reporter and editor, in front of shocked staff, with no explanation given, strikes fear and confusion in the media who had come to believe that law enforcement and the broader administration are willing to partner with journalism, in the interests of an informed public.

Update: The two were released in the wee hours on Friday morning without any charge.

Editor's Comment
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