The Cape Navigator

Seaside Community Newspaper

Cape Town, Western Cape

Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member Accused of Censoring on Public Safety Page

Editorial Staff

A Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member’s office is under fire for blocking a local news outlet from a Facebook page disseminating critical safety information, raising accusations of media censorship. Mayoral Committee Member (MMC) for Safety and Security JP Smith is facing scrutiny after his official page, “JP Smith – @JP4Safety,” blocked The Cape Navigator.

The Cape Navigator, a seaside community news publication known for its coverage of the Western Cape, including city governance and safety issues, claims the block prevents them from receiving timely notification and accessing critical information shared by Smith. The publication has reached out for clarification, asking if the block is intentional and requesting the process for reinstatement of access.

“We believe this restriction hinders our ability to inform our readership about important updates and safety announcements relevant to Cape Town,” said Michael Hawthorne, Founding Editor at The Cape Navigator. “We are committed to open communication and transparency, and we urge MMC Smith to reconsider this decision.”

Smith’s Facebook page, with over 99,000 followers, regularly shares information on crime trends, safety initiatives, and other related topics of interest to Cape Town and Western Cape residents.

While a spokesperson for Smith, Louis Cason, claims the page is privately run, it is argued that the page’s use for official city business makes it a public forum. “Blocking a news outlet from an official’s page, especially one focused on public safety, sets a dangerous precedent,” commented Hawthorne. “This raises concerns about accountability and the media and public’s right to know.”

This incident highlights tensions surrounding freedom of the media and access to information in South Africa. Despite The Cape Navigator denying any direct engagement with the page and only embedding Smith’s posts in their reporting, the publication remained blocked. Communication with Smith’s office has failed to produce a clear reason for the block or any established policies for the public and the media’s interaction on the page.

The Cape Navigator, determined to continue its public service, maintains its commitment to reporting on this and other issues to ensure access to vital safety updates. We continued to follow up with Smith and his spokesperson, Cason. During a follow-up conversation with Smith on WhatsApp on Wednesday, March 6th, he stated: “I have suggested that you be unblocked and that we see how it goes.” Despite this instruction, The Cape Navigator remained blocked. Further inquiries to Cason via email and to Smith on WhatsApp went unanswered. Only after multiple questions about the inaction did Smith respond on the afternoon of March 12th, saying: “They may have decided not to do so based on their own assessment. I have reminded them of your request.”

JP Smith Drafts General Statement on Blocking in Response

In response to our media inquiry on March 3rd and our continued follow-ups for answers, Smith posted a lengthy rationale for why he bans and blocks people and pages on his JP4Safety page at midday on March 12th.

In media solidarity, The Kimberley Prospector raised questions about this statement, asking Smith why The Cape Navigator remained blocked despite the lack of a valid reason to justify it.

At midnight, Smith responded to The Kimberley Prospector’s comments: “This is exactly the behaviour and commenting we strive to filter out and prevent.” The Kimberley Prospector further questioned Smith, highlighting that the publication only addressed the media censorship The Cape Navigator faced and asked relevant questions.

In response, The Kimberley Prospector was blocked from the JP4Safety page. The Cape Navigator was reinstated by March 13th; however, Smith has since turned off commenting on his posts for all pages.

Some Questions Remain Unanswered


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