Icasa rules against DA advert

DA Premier Candidate Mmusi Maimane

On 25 April, the Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC) ruled that the advert, which juxtaposed an image of an officer pointing a gun at two unarmed people with a voiceover saying: “we have seen our own police force killing our people”, incited violence and should be edited.

During the public hearings held at Icasa’s offices on 24 April, the legal team representing the police also said the image of a police officer pointing his firearm at unarmed protestors was inflammatory.

The police argued that the advert is in violation of provisions of regulation 6 9B, which governs political parties’ broadcasting rights and related matters, as it was likely to provoke unlawful or criminal conduct; including public violence against officers.

Officers were concerned about the message the advert sends to members of the public who will be voting on 7 May, especially as police will be working throughout the country to maintain peace and order.

The council ruled that the police’s complaint was valid and that the advert was in violation of regulation 6 9B.

“The election period tends to bring about a lot of volatility and therefore the language that is used during this period should be guarded and be conducive to an environment that is peaceful, lawful and free for the political parties and the public to exercise their rights,” said chairperson of the council Wandile Tutani.

“The police should not be seen as a threat to the community as suggested, in our view, by the advert.”

The “offending” part of the advert should be removed, he concluded.

The advert was first broadcast on 8 April.

The SABC later banned it, also noting concerns about inciting violence against police.

However, the DA successfully argued to Icasa that the advert did not exceed the limits of freedom of expression.

The advert was reinstated from 17 April after the SABC asked for an indefinite postponement.

DA Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane said the ruling was disappointing and the party would be taking the decision under review at the High court.

He added that South Africans had seen continuous images of the killings at Marikana and of Andries Tatane but did not resort to attacking police.

“How then do you in an election year tell people that conversation and comment must be restrained in terms of free speech.”

  AUTHOR
Simone Samuels

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