Paper must apologise for Malema reports

2012-05-10 14:23
Johannesburg - The Sunday Independent must apologise for two reports last year on expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, deputy press ombudsman Johan Retief ruled on Thursday.

Malema had complained that two front page stories published on October 30 and November 6 were inaccurate.

The stories were headlined "Malema faces arrest - Investigators Using SMSes to Nail Youth League Leader" and "Malema Ally Detained - Hawks Allegedly Find Him With R2m".

Front-page apology


Retief ordered the newspaper to print a front-page apology for stating as fact that Malema faced arrest, for not asking him to comment on the allegation, for inaccurately stating the value of his house and not verifying the figure, and for inaccurately stating that a lot of companies were registered under his name.

The apology was also for repeating the allegations as fact in its second story. The newspaper was further instructed to publish a summary of the findings.

Either party can apply for leave to appeal the ruling within seven days.

Retief said history had shown that the statement in dispute was not correct.

"It is now a full six months after the story was published, and still Malema has not been charged or arrested."

However, the crucial question was the reasonableness of the newspaper's belief that Malema was about to be arrested.

Anonymous sources

Retief found the newspaper had tried to corroborate the information by using more than one anonymous source.

"I believe that it was justified in believing that it had actually verified the information."

It had taken reasonable steps to gather its information and had enough grounds to believe its sources were credible.

The use of Hawks boss Anwa Dramat's photograph to illustrate the story represented normal journalistic practice.

However, the paper had erred in saying Malema's property was "believed to be worth about R16m".

Malema submitted a letter from architects confirming the total cost of the property was about R8.5m.

Unacceptable reportage

Retief voiced concern that newspapers sometimes took information from other publications, without independently verifying it.

"Journalists must realise that information is not true or accurate just because it was published," he said.

The reporter, Moffet Mofokeng, should have known that Malema denied his house was worth R16m. He should have tried to verify it, Retief said.

Malema also disputed a sentence in the story which asserts that "a lot of companies" were registered under Malema and his associates. He said companies were not registered to people and he was not even a director of any company.

Retief agreed that Malema was a trustee of the Ratanang Family Trust, which is a shareholder in On-Point Engineering (Pty) Ltd, and that there was no link between Malema and any company.

Malema complained that the second story stated the allegations in the first story as fact. Retief agreed, and said this was unacceptable reportage.

In breach of the Press Code

Malema also disputed a sentence which reads: "Last week's revelations about Malema's imminent arrest came as..."

Retief said the newspaper had indeed "revealed" information about his imminent arrest, regardless of whether there was substance to these "revelations".

He said the newspaper was entitled to publish the allegation of Malema's imminent arrest in the first story, but that the headline did not accurately reflect the contents of the story, as it presented the allegations as fact. This was in breach of the Press Code.

History had proved the allegation to be false, but the newspaper had not promptly published a reaction, correction or explanation.

The Sunday Independent should have asked Malema for his comment on the allegation of his imminent arrest.

Retief said the newspaper's credibility had been dented because of the length of time that had elapsed since the "imminent" arrest report.

"It would have salvaged its reputation if it had gone back to its sources early on to clarify the information they had given for its initial reports," he said.
- SAPA
Read more on:    sunday independent  |  julius malema  |  johan retief  |  media
NEXT ON NEWS24X

DRC plotters acquitted

40 minutes ago
SHARE:

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
74 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Africa: Land of Billionaires!

Find out who are the richest of the richest in Africa!

 
 

Men24.com

Best bro movies 2014
Every man should be able to do these three things
Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!
Hottie of the day: Jesselyn

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

Hot festive offers at kalahari.com!

Hurry! Stocks are limited. Don’t miss out. Shop Now!

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. 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

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Grandiose ideas and plans can trip you up today. Keep things in context and take one step at a time....read more

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.