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South African minister of police says journalist was wrongfully arrested

(MISA/IFEX) - Minister of Police Nathi Mthetwa has conceded that investigative journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika was wrongfully arrested in 2010. Damages of R100,000 (approx. US $11,300) will now be paid, as well as the legal costs of the newspaper wa Afrika writes for, The Sunday Times.

The journalist was arrested after publishing a series of stories pointing to then Inspector-General of Police Bheki Cele having been involved in questionable deals regarding the lease for the new South African Police Headquarters in the capital, Pretoria. Cele was subsequently fired.

According to media reports at the time of his arrest, wa Afrika was denied access to his lawyers for 48 hours and was transported from Gauteng Province, where he was arrested, to Mpumalanga Province without the knowledge of his lawyer. He was never brought to court.

"This was a full frontal assault on the freedom to report on corruption and it is comforting that the minister has acknowledged the arrest was wrongful. However, no amount of money can make up for the pain and suffering experienced by Mzilikazi," the newspaper's editor, Ray Hartley has been quoted as saying.

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