Ombudsman tells Sunday Times to apologise to Zuma's COO

2016-01-24 14:00
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Johannesburg - The Sunday Times has been directed to apologise to President Jacob Zuma's chief operations officer, Lakela Kaunda, for incorrectly reporting that those who clashed with her often ended up leaving the Presidency, the Press Ombudsman said on Sunday.

Kaunda had submitted a complaint to the ombudsman, Johan Retief, about an opinion article published on December 20 2015 headlined, 'Friends, advisors and a few rogues'.

The article described Kaunda as Zuma's "most trusted aide" and named two individuals who had allegedly clashed with her, and subsequently ended up leaving their jobs within the Presidency.

The article said, "All those who have clashed with her have ended up leaving the Presidency, including ANC deputy secretary general, Jesse Duarte, and former presidential spokesperson and newspaper editor, Vusi Mona… [Duarte’s] departure from the Presidency had more to do with personal differences and a power struggle between herself and Kaunda".

In her complaint, Kaunda said this was not true and was misleading. She denied having any altercations with Duarte, saying the newspaper had fabricated the story as far back as 2010.

Kaunda 'vindicated'

Regarding Mona's move, Kaunda said the late Minister Collins Chabane had transferred Mona from the Presidency to the GCIS.

In his finding, Retief said the Sunday Times itself had admitted that it was wrong to state that Duarte and Mona had left the presidency after clashing with Kaunda. Their actions were wrong, unfair and in breach of section 4.7 of the Press Code.

He directed that Sunday Times apologise to Kaunda for incorrectly and unfairly stating that Duarte and Mona had left the Presidency after clashing with her; and that all those who had clashed with her ended up leaving.

The publication was also directed to apologise to Kaunda for not exercising care and consideration regarding her dignity and reputation as a result.

"The newspaper is directed to publish this apology on the same page as the offending article, as well as on an appropriate place on its website," Retief said.

Kaunda said she felt vindicated following Retief's finding. "I am grateful to the Press Ombudsman for affirming my right to dignity and for underscoring my right not to have my reputation destroyed by untruthful and malicious reporting."

She said the publication had published a similar "false" story in 2010.

Read more on:    sunday times  |  jacob zuma  |  johannesburg

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