Sunday World told to apologise
Cape Town - The Sunday World newspaper has been ordered to publish an apology after it failed to verify information about an article on Sonono Khoza, daughter of Orlando Pirates soccer boss Irvin Khoza, demanding to be President Jacob Zuma's fourth wife.
Deputy Press Ombudsman Johan Retief said the newspaper had received its information on Khoza, who has a child with Zuma, from a single anonymous source, and that it had not been able to verify this information.
"The newspaper is directed to apologise to Khoza if the story caused her unnecessary harm," Retief said.
"The newspaper is directed to publish a summary of this finding - not the whole ruling - and sanction on page two."
Khoza complained about two stories published in the newspaper on September 5 2010, one on page two headlined "Say 'yes, yes' says Sonono - Khoza's daughter wants to wed Zuma first", and another on page three headlined "Merry wives of Nkhandla".
Not contacted for information
Khoza claimed the allegations made about her in the first article were untrue and defamatory, and that she was not contacted for comment prior to publication.
The Sunday World argued its reporter was asked by his editor to write the first story, after the latter had "overheard certain individuals" in the ANC discussing claims that Khoza was insisting Zuma marry her before he married his fiancée Bongiwe Ngema.
The newspaper said it obtained its information for the story from two sources. The first source, which it refused to name, was close to Zuma and was privy to the president's private affairs.
The newspaper said the source had revealed that Khoza "wants to be married to Zuma before Ngema does because she had been romantically involved with him before Ngema came into the picture".
The second source was a senior political reporter at the Sunday Times newspaper, who had been independently informed of the same allegations by a source "who is very close to the complainant's father, Irvin Khoza, and to the Khoza family".
Retief said: "It appears that the journalist merely took over what this source had told him, without verifying for himself.
"This leaves us with only one source, the one that is said to be close to Zuma's private life and who is unnamed.
"The important consideration here is that, even if this source is credible, the newspaper still should have verified the information - or at least have mentioned the fact that it could not be verified."
Wife statement ‘not harmful’
Retief said as the veracity of the allegations in the first story could not be established, it could also not be found these breaches of the Press Code had caused Khoza unnecessary harm.
"I can only find that it may have caused her unnecessary harm," he said.
In the second story Khoza objected to being included "in general terms relating to the president's wives".
She disputed the sentence reading: "But Zuma still has Bongiwe Gloria Ngema and Sonono Khoza to walk down the aisle with."
The Sunday World said the sentence was neither untrue nor defamatory and argued the comment was based on substantially true facts, and that there was no need to approach Khoza for comment on this matter.
"At the end of the article, mention is made of two possible future wives," Retief said.
"The veracity of this sentence is not in dispute. It is difficult to see how this can be in breach of the Press Code."