PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
ProJusticio
 
Comments: 6
Article views: 205
 
 
Latest Badges:



 
View all ProJusticio's badges.
 

You and the media -- the Secrecy bill

11 May 2012, 15:26
There are understandably serious concerns about the Protection of Information Bill Government is seeking to introduce. When a government seeks to interfere with media freedom it is nearly always for bad reasons; very bad reasons. It is right that we be all very concerned and passionately oppose the letter and spirit of this Bill.

However, with respect, there is an unarguable point in one respect. Having been involved in law for over 40 years, including as an advocate and as a judge, I have not the slightest doubt that this aspect needs urgent changing/tweaking. At present the media can, and does, publish defamatory articles/reports about a citizen without having first afforded the citizen any opportunity to deal with the allegation(s).

When the report later turns out to wholly or partly untrue, it is too late. The damage has been irretrievably done. An apology, even an award of monetary damages, does not retrieve/redress the damage done. This must be changed to bring things in line with the common law. You see it is a fundamental rule of such law, substantive and procedural, that no Court can condemn a person, including making adverse finds about the person, without having first ensured that the person has had full opportunity to both face his/her accuser and deal with the accusations. Now if the courts cannot do it why should the media be allowed to? It is a no brainer.

In my book, “The Other –without fear, favour or prejudice” I give a classic example of the problem in relating a case in which I acted for the late Minister Edson Jonasi Zvobgo in Zimbabwe. I also refer to an instance where City Press and Elias Maluleke purposefully published a scurrilous article about my wife and I, implying that we were criminals who had obtained residence in South Africa illegally. When we produced written proof of the falsity, both declined to retract or even apologize. Right there our good name and reputation, built up over 50 years, was contemptuously put in jeopardy. In our case, the false publication was in furtherance of a nefarious agenda, as a prelude to forcing me out of the Road Accident Fund, on account of the fact that my interests were to reform the system to primarily benefit road crash victims and not the plethora of “service providers”. The same thing appeared to have occurred as regards Geraldine Pillay, a great athlete and wonderful human being. Here again, innocuous facts were dredged up, tailored and slanted to do damage, in furtherance of an ulterior agenda, i.e., to prevent her election to the Athletics Board.

In June 2011 we saw this scourge unfolding again as regards the Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela who, like us, first heard of seriously damaging allegations, impugning her personal and functional integrity, when these are head lined in the Star newspaper. The paper published a headline article crafted to give readers the impression that she was about to be arrested for corruption. To date, it has provided not a shred of evidence that the police had made a decision to arrest her and/or that they had a basis for doing so. Yet again, July 2011, we had an article penned by senior journalist, Eric Miyeni, of City Press reading – "Haffajee does it for white masters. JULIUS Malema must never answer a Ferial Haffajee. Who the devil is she anyway if not a black snake in the grass, deployed by white capital to sow discord among blacks? In the 80s she'd probably have had a burning tyre around her neck. We know where she comes from. She was groomed by The Mail & Guardian, the same newspaper that produces the Jacob Dlaminis of this world, black people who say it was nice to live in the townships under apartheid. And today we must believe that Haffajee's utter hatred of ANC politicians is based on journalistic integrity. Quadruple crap. I am more inclined to think that people like Haffajee, who edits City Press, are most likely to be the kind that wakes up in the morning, sees their black faces in the mirror only to feel a wave of self-hatred rising up to nauseate them." The above article was highly injurious to Ferial Haffagee on any number of counts, unlawful and put her at personal risk. In the context of South African politics, where people have very been “necklaced” in the Eastern Cape. The article could not have be more damaging.

Now we even seem to have a similar problem as regards none other than Julius Malema.In law injury is injury; whether to the person or the personality. Injury to a person is criminalized. Injury to personality should, at least be, prohibited. The law must be changed so as to ensure that no report about a person that may impugn his/her name and/or reputation may be published unless the same test that binds the courts has been satisfied. In addition, the person’s response must enjoy equal exposure as the report itself. The indicated format is perfectly simple. Before the media can publish information that is defamatory it must run the information past the affected person and then publish his/her response with the same prominence that the damaging report is given.

Failure should, inter alia, incur summary judgment in punitive monetary damages in favour of the victim. This model is quite easy to draft. “After the fact” remedies, like “strengthening the Ombudsman’s office’ or a Media Tribunal are not the answer. Prevention must be the primary objective. The change is indicated on a human rights test. It is jurisprudentially unarguable. It is as simple as that. The Bill has been postponed for another month. Take action now.It should be noted that the media has shown a singular disinterest in this proposal. Now please note the irony of the media quite rightly opposing a claimed right by government to decide what should be published but, at the same time, seeking to protect that same facility on its own behalf as an unfettered, uncontrolled right.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.
 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
6 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Keita
The human face of christian spite

I can’t tell you how often I hear this, both here on News24 and elsewhere. Rational arguments have been made to indicate how wrong those statements are, but it seems they fall on deaf ears. Read more...

27 comments 412 views
Submitted by
Greg Martino
Does God answer our prayers?

To supplement to our insufficient income, myself and my wife are occasionally given the opportunity to work various trade shows at which my wife's company exhibits at. Read more...

71 comments 942 views
Submitted by
Ryan_Ruffgrain
Mario’s here. Nothing else matter...

The above title seems an apt proviso for this piece. Of course, there were other matters of some incident in the Premier League this weekend.  Read more...

0 comments 175 views
Submitted by
Tracy Gilpin
You're never too old to spy

So why is it easier to spot a Voortrekker bonnet at an EFF rally than a South African spy thriller on a shelf? Read more...

1 comments 284 views
Submitted by
Vusumuzi Shongwe
Sorry for you, Mr Basson

Mr Adriaan Basson could I say respectfully to you Sir, why are you interfering in the issues of the African National Congress. Read more...

30 comments 1539 views
Submitted by
ohomen171
If someone does your wrong..don't...

A person dear in my life was badly treated by an employer some years ago. She got a call yesterday from a lawyer asking questions about this unfair lady. She answered truthfully and honestly. Read more...

12 comments 2765 views

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on your iPhone Get News24 headlines on your iPhone.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

Calais Website keywords automated by OpenCalais.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2014 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.