President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday assured editors in South Africa that he would ensure the safe return of journalist Paul Nthoba who fled to Lesotho last month after police allegedly assaulted him for several days.Nthoba’s alleged crime was to take photographs of the law enforcers as they went about their work of reinforcing the Level 4 lockdown rules last month.
This might have angered the cops who allegedly unleashed body blows on the journalist for doing his work for a local newspaper.
Ramaphosa, during a virtual meeting with the South African Editors Forum (Sanef), said: “I’m going to direct Police Minister Bheki Cele to make sure that he (journalist) has safe passage back into South Africa and that he should not be molested in anyway.
He added: “I’m going to get the minister to make sure the journalist is not subjected to any form of threats or any form of harassment because, as you correctly said, he was just doing his work.”
Nthoba fled to Lesotho two weeks ago. He is hiding at the United Nations offices following the police officers’ assaults on him in Ficksburg, a small town bordering Lesotho.
Nthoba edits a small community newspaper, the Mokohare News, and he crossed the border on 19 May – four days after the alleged police assaults in connection with his coverage of the current lockdown enforcement operations.
Earlier, Ramaphosa thanked the editors for their commendable work in disseminating information on the coronavirus pandemic since its outbreak in the country in March.