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Photos: Film crew assaults Wheels24 journo

2008-03-04 12:10

The security guard with Wilmer Muller after Muller was tackled by him

John Oxley

The incident took place right outside the offices of Media24 when Wilmer Muller, deputy editor of Wheels24, was attempting to photograph a new BMW 5 Series estate that was being filmed on a piece of public ground beside the new Cape Town International Conference Centre.

The film company involved is believed to be Steiner Films of Germany, as indicated by a sign on one the support vehicles.

Enquiries have elicited the information that Steiner Films has been involved with BMW before, and with other advertising clients in South Africa.

Muller was standing on the pavement of the Heerengracht dual carriageway, far from the car, and outside a taped-off area, when he was attacked by one of the guards.

He was chased acrosss the busy road, flung to the ground on the central reservation area of the dual carriageway, and the guard then attempted to snatch the camera, damaging it in the process.

The whole incident was witnessed and photographed by Wheels24 photographer William McIntosh, as well as other members of staff.

This is the latest in a series of reported attacks on members of the public by heavy-handed security guards.

A recent letter in the influential CAR magazine outlined threats that were made to another member of the public and his mother when he took photographs of another BMW.

In that incident the camera was taken by the guards and the film removed.

The film was later returned minus the photographs of the car.

"I was standing on the pavement when the attack happened. The guard chased me across the road and threw me to the ground in the central reservation," said Muller.

"The camera hit the ground and has not worked since. He tried to grab the camera out of my hand but I managed to get to my feet and got away from him".

Photographer William McIntosh said they also tried to stop him from taking photographs, but he refused.

He witnessed the attack on Muller and took photographs of the incident. The incident was also witnessed by other members of staff.

Wheels24 managing editor John Oxley then confronted the guards - who had now moved to the central reservation of the Heerengracht - and asked for their names and the name of the company they worked for. They gave a facetious answer.

Richard Carter, General Manager Group Communications and Public Affairs of BMW, said he was not aware that a film shoot was taking place.

"I am very concerned about what you have told me and will take steps to look into it right away," he said.

"However I am on the road and may well not be able to get back to you before Monday or Tuesday".

Carter later telephoned Oxley and asked him to take a cellphone to the shoot so he could speak to the person in charge.

This he did, and after a lengthy conversation the telephone was returned. Carter said he had not been able to find out who the company was, but promised to get back to us.

While the telephone conversation was taking place Oxley was approached by a tall German who made disparaging remarks about journalists, and South Africans in general, and claimed he was in fact in charge.

Oxley then asked the security guard who had been involved in the incident for his name, but this was refused.

Oxley then approached a traffic officer who was standing by for help in the matter, but he was told to go to the SA Police.

Muller is to lay charges of assault and damage to property with the SA Police.

We also contacted the Cape Town Film Commission for details of the film company, and a spokesperson promised to get back to us with details of the crew involved.


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