Alert / Media Alert

Journalists kicked out of airport opening – no accreditation

MISA-Swaziland | Alert
March 10 2014

Swaziland unveiled a new airport last week. News agency AFP said the $280-million airport is “years away from being operational and has been dubbed a ‘white elephant’ by critics”.

Local media in Swaziland, which rarely questions or directly criticises the ruling monarchy, reported that “numerous members of the public posing as television journalists were pulled out of the arena for failing to produce accreditation cards to vigilant security officials”.  

The Observer on Saturday, a weekly newspaper effectively owned by King Mswati III — who has been in power since 1986 — said “some photographers were suspected to be from foreign media houses and overlooked the need to get accreditation to work at the highly anticipated opening of the Sikhuphe Airport yesterday, later named King Mswati III Airport”.

The newspaper says the journalists were mostly believed to be from Botswana.

“The ‘journos’, some of whom were local, gave security the slip and began working undeterred,” reported the Observer on Saturday.

“Security officials were seen approaching the men requesting to see their needed identification allowing them to work, failure to produce the needed cards meant instant removal and the men were seen gathering their equipment looking dejected, leaving the arena.”

A member of the public was also reported to have been ejected from the event for recording the proceedings.

A security official, according to the newspaper, said “there is a need to tighten security from such events and this is a warning to all other media houses”.   

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