McBride murder accusation ‘unfair’

2010-09-30 15:22

The Citizen newspaper’s description of former Ekurhuleni metro police chief Robert McBride as a “murderer” who was “without contrition” was unfair, the Constitutional Court heard today.

“We submit that it was stated as fact that he has no contrition,” McBride’s lawyer Daniel Berger said.
“The truth is that he is contrite and he has apologised numerous times in public.”

The court was hearing an appeal by The Citizen against defamation damages granted to McBride after the newspaper labelled him a murderer.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) upheld a high court ruling that the newspaper defamed McBride.

The Citizen described McBride as a murderer in a series of articles and editorials in 2003, which questioned his fitness to be appointed as Ekurhuleni metro police chief.

The newspaper argued the comment was in the public interest, fair and based on true facts.

McBride planted a bomb at Magoo’s Bar in Durban in 1986, and three women were killed in the blast.

The SCA found McBride could no longer be branded a criminal and murderer for the crime because he had been granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

Berger said today the editorial was unfair because it made no mention of McBride’s contrition, or his successful application for amnesty.

However, Wim Trengove for The Citizen told the court a reasonable reader would have knowledge of the amnesty, because it had been mentioned in an article in the paper the previous day.

Berger countered a reader may not have read the previous article or even the entire article.

The case first found its way to the high court in Johannesburg, which ruled that the newspaper had defamed McBride. The SCA partially upheld the newspaper’s appeal.

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