Ombudsman reprimands Huisgenoot

2013-12-05 14:06
Griekwastad murder suspect.

Griekwastad murder suspect. ( André Damons, Volksblad)

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Johannesburg -  The Press Ombudsman has reprimanded Huisgenoot for publishing a picture of the boy accused of murdering the Steenkamp family on their farm near Griekwastad.

"Huisgenoot identified the minor... and without the necessary public interest or with regards to the best interests of the child. This is in breach of section 8.3 of the Press Code," ombudsman Johann Retief said in his ruling, released in a statement on Thursday.

"...I simply cannot conclude that the publication of the picture was in the public interest and, least of all, that it was in the minor's best interests to have done so... The press shall not identify children... who have been charged with... a crime."

The 17-year-old teenager stands accused of killing farmer Deon Steenkamp, 44, his wife Christel, 43, and their daughter Marthella, 14. They were shot dead on their farm Naauwhoek, near Griekwastad, on 6 April 2012.

He is also accused of raping Marthella and lying to police. The case is pending in the Northern Cape High Court in Kimberley.

Previously, prosecutor Hannes Cloete requested that the media be excluded from proceedings. However, at the start of trial, the court ruled that the media could be present, but that the minor not be identified.

The picture of the teenager was published on its front page on 14 November and the 17-year-old's name was used.

A complaint was lodged with the Press Ombudsman stating that the minor was identified, causing him unnecessary harm. The complainant also wanted an investigation into allegations that the magazine paid for some of its stories, including the Griekwastad one.

Retief directed the magazine to publish a kicker (a phrase above the headline) on its front page with the words "Griekwastad: Press Ombudsman severely reprimands Huisgenoot".

Retief dismissed the complaint that Huisgenoot paid for the information.

Read more on:    kimberley  |  media  |  griekwastad murders

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