Paper told to say sorry over Mpumalanga story

2012-07-23 14:37
(File, Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(File, Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - The Lowvelder newspaper must apologise for a report which wrongfully accused the Mpumalanga government of corruption and financial maladministration, deputy press ombudsman Johan Retief ruled on Monday.

The office of Premier David Mabuza had complained about a story published on 25 November, headlined "A scary picture of an imminent meltdown in M'langa's finances" and "Province of the rising corruption".

The office felt the story deliberately created the false impression that Mabuza and members of his executive council were directly involved in corrupt activities.

The article, written by Christopher de Wet, stated that annual reports by the Auditor General (AG) painted a scary picture of a province approaching a financial meltdown.

It claimed that "damning" evidence of "gross mismanagement and maladministration" had been hidden away in hundreds of pages of portfolio committee reports.

Retief ordered the newspaper to print a front-page apology for a number of factual and reporting errors.

Key mistake

He said that De Wet had made a key mistake by consistently confusing the accrued total of "wrongful" expenditure over several years with figures pertinent to one financial year.

"He had also equated fruitless, wasteful, irregular and unauthorised expenditure with each other, while a clear distinction should be drawn between these issues - in total he misrepresented an amount of more than R1bn."

De Wet also confused the AG's report with the annual financial statement of the health department, mixed up provincial with local government and incorrectly concluded that "wrongful" expenditure boiled down to corruption.

Retief said the total amount misrepresented in the story was "mind-boggling".

"I am glad that I am not in the shoes of the people that the story wrongly accused of corruption. The amount of harm to their integrity and reputation is in fact incalculable."

The ombudsman said he did not believe De Wet's story amounted to deliberate, and therefore malicious, reporting.

"The mistakes that he made were too consistent for that, and the insights that he gained at the meeting seemed genuine to me."

Retief said that he was satisfied that De Wet had learnt from this experience and that he would indeed do better next time, "which is what my office is all about".

Read more on:    mbombela  |  media

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X 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
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Partner Content
How data is changing investments

Technological disruption is rife in many spheres of business and given the quantity of data available, it’s no surprise that the way in which asset managers work is also changing fast.

Behind the sparkle

Alluring, beautiful and timeless - diamonds are some of the most sought after gems in the world and are a true testament of everlasting brilliance. Let us take you behind the sparkle to show you the history behind this coveted jewel.


Chocolate can be fatal for dogs

Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine that is similar to caffeine and is toxic to dogs at certain levels.



Spider-man star's adorable relationship with his dog
Do you know what you are feeding your dog?
Watch: Proof animals have souls
Would you clone your pet?
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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 network.


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.