Sunday Times ordered to retract 'Saxonwold Shebeen' report on Molefe

2017-03-01 19:49
Brian Molefe (File, Netwerk24)

Brian Molefe (File, Netwerk24)

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WATCH: Let me explain the Saxonwold shebeen, says Brian Molefe

2016-11-04 17:00

On Friday Eskom CEO Brian Molefe explained his comments about a shebeen in upmarket Saxonwold.WATCH

Johannesburg - The Sunday Times has been ordered to retract and correct a report alleging that former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe claimed that he had visited a shebeen in Saxonwold.

Press Ombudsman Johan Retief made the ruling on Wednesday, saying the publication had committed a "Tier 2 offence", which constituted a serious breach of the South African Code of Ethics and Conduct, which requires the media to report news truthfully, accurately and fairly.

In the article, headlined "From Saxonwold shebeen to Parliament: Molefe set for comeback", which was published on January 29, the publication explains Molefe's move to Parliament as part of a bigger plan to replace current Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Molefe resigned as Eskom CEO in November after the release of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's damning State of Capture report.

Molefe filed a complaint about a specific line in the article which reads: "A tearful Molefe claimed that he had been visiting a shebeen in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, and not the Guptas, as the report suggested."

Molefe featured extensively in the report which included damning details on his relationship with the controversial Gupta family.

Madonsela found that Molefe and Ajay Gupta, the eldest of three Gupta brothers, had made 58 telephone calls to one another between August 2015 and March 2016, and that cellphone records had placed him near the Guptas' Saxonwold compound sometime before the Guptas' company, Tegeta Exploration and Resources, controversially scored a R600m prepaid coal contract with Eskom.

No evidence

Molefe argued in his complaint to the ombudsman that he had never said he actually visited the shebeen.

"My cellphone reflects that I was in Saxonwold 14 times, close to the head of proverbial goats. My cellphone reflects I was in the area... There's a shebeen there, two streets away from the Gupta[s]. I will not admit or deny that I've gone to the shebeen. But there is a shebeen there," Molefe said during a press briefing shortly after the report was released.

Retief has found that the Sunday Times did not bring forward any evidence that Molefe had said that he had actually visited the shebeen.

"If the Sunday Times said Molefe 'implied that he had visited the Saxonwold shebeen', or even that he had 'hinted that he might have gone to the place', I might have decided that the reportage was justified.

"What was reported, though, was that Molefe "claimed" that he had been visiting a shebeen – which he never did," said Retief.

He ordered the publication to retract the statement that Molefe "claimed" he had visited the shebeen and to report his pertinent denial to that effect prominently, on either page two or three of the newspaper as well as online.

Read more on:    press council  |  brian molefe  |  johannesburg  |  saxonwold shebeen

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