Two Nigerian journalists who were in South Africa for the recently concluded 2013 Africa Cup of Nations have narrated how they were harassed, brutalised and detained for lack of good reasons by the South African police.
Debo Oshundun, South Africa Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), and John Joshua-Akanji, Deputy Editor of the Sun Newspapers were cornered by policemen when they were on their way to cover the departure of the Super Eagles at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
Narrating their account to Sporting Life, the duo said shortly after they both alighted from a taxi, they were surrounded by no less than 20 fully armed South African police officers who threatened to shoot them after they insisted they were Journalists.
“The police claimed that they stopped our car because the taxi we were in had a number plate with two different characters. Immediately they stopped us they removed the number plate. They lied that they had been trailing us,” Oshundun told SportingLife in Johannesburg on Tuesday afternoon.
Similarly, Joshua-Akanji disclosed that 20 policemen who had already cocked their guns and pointed them to their heads were shouting “I will shoot you, I will shoot you. Who are you? Do you think you are special? I will blast your brains off.”
It took the intervention of the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg to secure the release of both men. Lieutenant Colonel M. F. Tshabalala station commander, Sandringham Command South African Police Service, SAPS, later apologised for the treatment meted out on the Nigeria Journalists. There are no indications yet, if they will press charges against the South African Police.
Joshua-Akanji had to miss his flight due to the incident. Speaking to Goal.com, Oshundun recounted his ordeal.
“I thank God we are still alive because we could have been shot. I have never been in that situation in my life. I was dragged on the floor kicked and brutalised. I and John Joshua-Akanji were disposed of our phones, my keys and we couldn’t contact anybody. We were detained for two hours and I was really traumatised for the time the police dealt with us and still imagining it up till now.”
“I am perplexed and short of words to describe the way I felt during and after our ordeal in the hands of the policemen here. I have not experienced this in my whole life,” Oshundun added.