Ombudsman criticises Selebi story

2013-02-08 12:57
Jackie Selebi (File, Sapa)

Jackie Selebi (File, Sapa)

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Johannesburg - The Press Ombudsman on Friday reprimanded The Times newspaper for a report on former police chief Jackie Selebi's medical parole.

Johan Retief found journalist Thabo Mokone had not mentioned all the reasons why authorities decided to release Selebi on medical parole in his story on 8 August 2012, and was therefore unbalanced in his reporting.

He reported that Selebi had a kidney condition, but failed to mention that he had also suffered a stroke and had a pulmonary embolism, Retief said in a statement.

"There is little doubt that the gist of the story was about the lack of credibility regarding the medical parole system. More than half of the story was devoted to this criticism.


"It was Mokone’s right and duty to report criticism against the parole system, but then he should have balanced it with all the (important) reasons for Selebi’s release as communicated by government officials - so that the public could decide for itself if his release was credible or not."

The Times said it would comment on the findings later in the day.

Retief dismissed further complaints that the story presented opinions as fact and was untruthful and inaccurate.

"Note that I am not passing judgment as to the validity of Selebi’s parole. My only concern is about journalism, and I believe that the medical reason that the story presented for his release was inadequate."

Retief directed The Times to publish a story saying it had neglected to state that Selebi had also suffered a stroke and had a pulmonary embolism.

Selebi was granted medical parole in July last year, and was placed under house arrest. He was convicted of corruption in 2010 and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Read more on:    press ombudsman  |  jackie selebi  |  media

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