Press ombudsman clears backlog

2010-11-26 14:32

Cape Town - The office of the press ombudsman has cleared the backlog of complaints, ombudsman Joe Thloloe said on Friday.

This emerged at the Press Council's quarterly meeting held this week in Johannesburg, Thloloe said.

"The council heard that the ombudsman has over the past year systematically carved away at the number of complaints that were outstanding, while new ones were coming in at a rate of knots," he said.

Although there still were a few old outstanding cases, the office was now handling and settling new complaints much faster than earlier.

During the three months preceding the council's meeting, the office had settled 10 complaints through mediation, rejected 31 for various reasons, and made 21 official findings.

Increase in complaints

The office had this year so far posted 59 findings on its website, in contrast to the total of 24 that were published from January 2008 to December 2009.

The backlog was worked away despite the fact that the number of complaints had consistently increased over the past three years, he said.

The office was now receiving complaints at an average of one per day - 91 over the past three months.

Thloloe calculated that, based on the current situation, the office might next year expect to receive up to 400 complaints, as compared to the 140 odd complaints received in 2009 and the 189 this year up to now.

Press Council chairperson Raymond Louw, said he was delighted the backlog was now something of the past.

"It has been a point of criticism against the ombudsman's office and it is a great relief that the situation has now been overturned," he said.

The complainants came from all spheres of life - from "ordinary" citizens, to government officials and departments, to premiers of provinces.