Reprimand

2017-02-19 06:00
Advocate Boyce Mkhize. Picture: Cornel van Heerden/Foto24

Advocate Boyce Mkhize. Picture: Cornel van Heerden/Foto24

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Johannesburg - The appeals panel of the Press Council of SA has reprimanded City Press for publishing two stories involving Advocate Boyce Mkhize, former chief executive officer (CEO) of the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency, in which it alleged that a forensic report had implicated him in irregularities while he was CEO.

The panel found that City Press erred in referring to the report it used to base the story on as a “forensic” report when it was an internal audit report.

City Press apologises for wrongly describing the report as a forensic one instead of what it was, an internal audit report.

The panel dismissed all other complaints that Mkhize brought against City Press and set aside the earlier ruling by the Press Ombudsman that City Press should have indicated that the report it relied on while writing the stories was a draft and that the use of the word ‘corruption’ was the paper’s own opinion.

The panel said City Press accurately reflected the contents of the report and that it was justified in saying there was “corruption”, and implicating Mkhize in it.

The panel found there were, on the face of it, some findings of irregularities in the report and that some of the adverse findings in the report justified the use of the word ‘corruption’, even if the audit report did not use the word.

In its ruling, the panel said: “Moreover, the heading speaks of ‘possible’ corruption, and the content of the stories speaks of ‘allegations’ of corruption.

Insofar as the implication of the appellant is concerned, it should be borne in mind that, at all material times, he was the CEO and therefore the accounting officer.

“Fingers had to point at him as these irregularities took place under his watch; the public would understand that he was being implicated in that capacity.

"In this respect, it is noteworthy that there are no allegations that he personally benefited.”

The panel rejected Mkhize’s complaint that City Press should not have reported on the internal audit report because the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency had denied its existence.

The panel said the paper reported on an existing document and the existence or nonexistence of the report was an issue between Mkhize and the agency.

- Visit presscouncil.org.za for the full finding

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