Press Ombud dismisses Hawks complaint

2014-03-13 22:24


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Johannesburg - A complaint by the head of the Hawks in Gauteng, Major General Shadrack Sibiya, against the Sunday Times was dismissed, the Press Ombudsman said on Thursday.

Sibiya was complaining about a story published in the Sunday Times of 12 January 2014, headlined: "Hawks boss link to Sexy Boys gang drugs bust - Gauteng head allegedly took cash from suspects." Sibiya complained that the story falsely stated that he had been in Cape Town during December 2013, that he had received money from gang leaders during that "meeting", and that he had been connected to a police drug bust in the Mother City.

He said the journalist made use of anonymous sources who were most likely connected to the criminal underworld, and/or to corrupt police officials; and the headline was sensationalist, devoid of truth and misleading.

The ruling said Sibiya provided copies of his passport and visa to prove that he was out of the country on the days that he allegedly was in Cape Town.

"The information on Sibiya's passport and visa supports his claim that he was not in South Africa on 16 or 17 December [as claimed by Sunday Times in correspondence after the story was published]."

"However, the story did not say that the alleged meeting took place on one of those dates - it merely stated that Sibiya had been in Cape Town in December," the Ombudsman said.

The Ombudsman said while he accepted that Sibiya was abroad between 12 and 24 December, he had no information about his whereabouts in that month before and after these dates.

"If the story stated that Sibiya had been in Cape Town on 16 or 17 December, I would certainly have decided that the newspaper's information was wrong and would have found against the publication."

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