Ventersdorp article breached Press Code

2010-07-31 13:51

Mr George Annandale complained to the Press Ombudsman about an article in City Press written by Andile Mngxitama and published on April 11 2010, headlined Blacks in bondage. The Ombudsman’s offices note that Mngxitama wrote the article in his personal capacity and that it was in no way related to his fulltime work.

According to the complaint, the article falsely implied that former Ventersdorp mayor Kabelo Mashi was murdered by white rightwing extremists and, further, that the article is aimed at the propagation of racial hatred.

The Press Ombudsman found that it was unreasonable and ­irresponsible for Mngxitama to present as a fact the allegation that Mashi’s murder remains ­unsolved, whilst not mentioning the subsequent court case in which Bota Monatle was convicted of the murder. Although the Ombudsman accepted that some may still regard Mashi’s murder as controversial, he found that the article breached the Press Code in failing to take fair account of all the available facts whilst commenting on them (Press Code, Art. 4.3).

The Ombudsman conceded that the publication in City Press two weeks later of an article by James Myburgh, which set out the facts around the court case in detail, considerably balanced out the reporting.

Mr Annandale’s complaint that the article was aimed at propagating racial hatred was dismissed. The Ombudsman found that although the article contains highly critical views on the AWB, it does not constitute ­incitement to cause harm nor does it contain denigratory ­references to people’s race, ­colour or ethnicity.

The full ruling can be found on Press Council.

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