We are out of time, but not hopelessly so: SAPS

The SA Police Service (SAPS) is out of time to complain against the DA’s election advertisement, but not hopelessly so, Icasa’s complaints and compliance committee heard on Thursday morning.

“We acknowledge that we are out of time, but we are not hopelessly out of time,” advocate William Mokhari, for the police, said at a public hearing at the Independent Communications Authority of SA’s offices in Johannesburg.

The Democratic Alliance said in its papers objecting to the complaint that the police were hopelessly out of time to lodge a complaint. In terms of the rules governing election advertisements, all complaints should be lodged within 48 hours after the advert was initially aired.

The advert was taken off the air by the SABC after it was flighted on April 8 and 9. The public broadcaster said it incited violence.

The DA challenged the decision with Icasa and it was aired again.

The police then objected as well. They argue the part of the advertisement where the DA’s Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane says “the police are killing our people” accompanied by images of a policeman shooting at a person, would “invite violent acts against the members of the SAPS”.

The ‘Ayisafani’ (It’s not the same) advertisement shows Maimane standing in front of a mirror talking about the current state of the country.

Mokhari said the police only became aware of it on April 11 and did not see it when it originally aired. When the police heard it was taken off air, they let the Icasa hearings take place.

The DA and SABC came to an agreement on April 16 and the advert was aired again. Mokhari said that was when the police took action and consulted their lawyers. The SAPS lodged a complaint on April 20.

Mokhari said after the police became aware that the advert was brought back, they took the necessary steps to protect their rights.

On April 17, the SAPS wrote a letter to the SABC to inform them of the intention to complain. He said the police and their lawyers worked over the Easter long weekend to ensure the complaint was lodged quickly because they “understood it was a matter that required urgent attention”.

“It’s a matter of great interest,” he said.

“That we are out of time, we accept, but that we are hopelessly out of time, we don’t accept.”

The hearings continue.

–Further reporting–

The DA insisted on Thursday that the SA Police Service (SAPS) had waited too long to complain about the party’s election advert.

“The law is clear, the regulations are clear… that should be the end of this complaint,” Nick Ferreira, for the Democratic Alliance, told Icasa’s complaints and compliance committee in Johannesburg.

“The law expressly demarcates the time period in hours… Election adverts are urgent.”

The Independent Communications Authority of SA’s (Icasa) committee was holding public hearings on the matter.

The ‘Ayisafani’ (It’s not the same) advert shows the DA’s Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane standing in front of a mirror talking about the current state of the country.

The police argue the part of the advert where Maimane says “the police are killing our people” with images of a policeman shooting at a person, would “invite violent acts against the members of the SAPS”.

In terms of rules governing election advertisements, all complaints should be lodged 48 hours after the advert was initially aired.

The DA said police were “hopelessly out of time” to lodge a complaint because the advert was originally aired on April 8 and 9.

William Mokhari, for the police, told the hearings that they only became aware of the advert on April 11 and lodged a complaint on April 20.

The advert was previously banned by the SABC after it was flighted on April 8 and 9. The public broadcaster said the advert incited violence.

The DA laid a complaint with Icasa, after which a public hearing was held on the matter. The DA and SABC came to an agreement on April 16 and the broadcaster aired it again.

Ferreira told the hearings the police deliberately decided not to take part in the initial hearings. After these hearings were resolved on April 16 and the advert was aired the same day, the police were required to lodge a complaint by April 18, said Ferreira. The police however lodged a complaint some five days later, he said.

The commission adjourned until 2pm for the committee to decide whether it would accept the police’s complaint.

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We are out of time, but not hopelessly so: SAPS