SABC ordered to apologise to M&G journo
Johannesburg - The SABC has been ordered to apologise to the Mail &
Guardian newspaper for broadcasting an "inaccurate" and
"distorted" story about one of the newspaper's journalists.
The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA) found that, in
neglecting to give journalist Sam Sole the right to reply to allegations that
he accepted a R900 bribe and was guilty of racial bias, the SABC failed in its
obligation to publish truthful and unbiased news in an ethical manner.
The allegations against Sole were made by businessman Robert Gumede in a
report on the SABC on November 4.
In the insert broadcast on SABC3 and SAfm, Sole was accused of accepting
bribes from British businessman John Sterenborg in return for publishing
damaging allegations of corruption against Gumede.
"Here’s a payment, one of the first payments that Sterenborg made out
to a journalist who is an award-winning journalist, so-called investigative
journalist who goes out to attack black people, to say that they are corrupt,
they bribe people and here it is," Gumede said in the report.
The BCCSA said the report was "serious" and "damaging".
"The allegations made by Gumede against Sole are very serious and
damaging," the BCCSA said.
"Sole’s credibility as an investigative journalist was questioned and
he was not afforded the opportunity to defend himself.
"The SABC is clearly biased against the Mail & Guardian."
The BCCSA said the broadcaster had "intentionally or negligently"
distorted and misrepresented the facts of the story, "in particular, the
allegation that Sterenborg paid Sole a bribe".
Code of conduct
It said the SABC had failed to contact Sole and had approached the Mail
& Guardian only an hour-and-a-half before the story was to be aired. Gumede
was contacted three-and-a-half hours earlier.
"The SABC has failed to comply with the BCCSA code of conduct by
broadcasting the Gumede-Mail & Guardian story in a manner which is
inconsistent with the requirements of the code of conduct.
"The BCCSA is requested to order the SABC to broadcast an apology to
the Mail & Guardian and Sole on the SABC 3 19:00 news bulletin and on the
SAfm 06:00 and 07:00 news.
"The apology must be given the same prominence as the original
The SABC said it believed it had not contravened the code.