January 13, 2014, in Britz, South Africa
Tshele, a freelance photographer, was shot dead while he was photographing a community protest in Mothutlung near the town of Britz in the North West province, according to news reports. Protesters were demonstrating about the lack of water and sanitation in their community, news reports said.
Residents told the local privately owned weekly City Press that police shot Tshele "in cold blood" while he had a camera in his hands. Tshele, who was popularly known as "Bra Mike," was a community activist and photojournalist who had contributed to the local online daily Kormorant newspaper and the local community newspaper Leseding News, according to the 2014 "State of the Newsroom report," an annual report published by Wits University in Johannesburg.
The Wits University report cited two versions of Tshele's death. It said that community members had said Tshele was shot by police because "he had a camera and was taking photographs of broken water pipes." The second version cited official sources as saying the journalist was a victim of crossfire between protesters and police officers.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), which is responsible for investigating alleged police misconduct, opened an inquiry into Tshele's death, news reports said. In October, IPID recommended to the Director of Public Prosecutions that two police officers should be prosecuted for shooting dead Tshele and two protesters that day. The Director of Public Prosecutions charged both officers with murder, attempted murder, one count of illegal possession of unlicensed ammunition and one count of pointing of a firearm. The officers appeared in court in October 2014, according to news reports. The outcome of the hearing was not immediately clear.
A few months after Tshele's death, the South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) met with Riah Phiyega, the general police commissioner, and agreed to establish a committee of senior South African police officials and SANEF members who would "improve police-media relations," according to a SANEF statement. Former editor Raymond Louw, who was a member of the delegation, told CPJ in late 2014 that nothing had happened since the meeting.
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