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A senior South African journalist who is in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup was taken to a police station and searched after being accused of peddling drugs in a Taupo bar. Vata Ngobeni, chief rugby writer for the Pretoria News, has labelled himself "the unlucky black man in Taupo" in a column published overnight in his newspaper. Read it here. He told the Herald the police were heavy-handed and unreasonable and the incident had soured his trip to New Zealand. Other South African journalists here for the Rugby World Cup have called the police actions racist.
Vata Ngobeni, who works for the Pretoria News newspaper and acts as an analyst for South Africa's national broadcaster SABC, was arrested in the early hours of Monday morning and taken to a police station where he was strip searched. When he tried to explain that he was a journalist on tour covering the Springboks's performance in the Rugby World Cup, which New Zealand is hosting, he was told they were following standard procedure when they spot someone who fits "the profile of a drug dealer". Colleagues in the bar with him confirmed he was the only black person present. "I have never been so embarrassed in my life," he told a South African newspaper after being released. "I have never experienced this kind of treatment in all my travels around the world, so to be singled out as a common criminal in front of so many people is something I will never forget."
"To stop and search and haul an SA journo to a police station because of the way he looks without any evidence is ridiculous," Nel wrote.