A group of about seven unidentified people assaulted two journalists with local broadcaster Mpuma Kapa TV (MPKTV) around noon on October 30, while the reporters were covering protests about the alleged hijacking of government housing—where possession of the property is taken by those not on the waiting list—in the coastal city of Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape province, according to a statement by the South African National Editors’ Forum, a report by the outlet, and Sbu Maingo, one of the journalists who spoke to CPJ.
As Maingo and reporter Jessica Bobo interviewed residents, a protestor charged at Maingo and pushed him to prevent him from filming, but Maingo held the protestor back with his hand, the journalist told CPJ. Maingo tried to continue to record the protests when six other residents joined in, beating him with their fists, sticks, and wooden planks, and threw him against a perimeter wall, he told CPJ.
When Maingo passed the camera to Bobo and she sought help for her colleague, some protestors began hitting her with sticks. The pair were saved when other community members intervened, he said.
“I couldn’t see much, but I heard some other community members screaming and telling them to stop attacking me,” Maingo said.
Bobo was not injured, however, Maingo sustained injuries to his face, ribs, and neck. He said he later sought medical treatment for severe tissue damage and has not worked for a week to recover at home and rest his back on his doctor’s orders.
Maingo said he did not plan to file a report with the police.
Priscilla Naidu, a police spokesperson for Eastern Cape Brigadier, told CPJ she was not aware of the assault and therefore could not comment.