Ombudsman rules in favour of de Lange

2011-11-22 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The office of the press ombudsman yesterday found in favour of journalist Deon de Lange, against two charges laid by the Chief Whip of the ANC, Mathole Motshekga.

De Lange is a journalist for Independent Newspapers’ parliamentary bureau. Motshekga complained about a story in the newspaper, published on September 29, headlined “Confusion reigns — Officials say ANC bill move is ‘bizarre’”. The article stated that “confusion reigned supreme in Parliament” after the ANC surprised “everyone” by announcing a unilateral public consultation process on the controversial bill.

Motshekga’s written complaint stated the newspaper did not seek the views of the ANC and the reference to “confusion” in both the story and the headline was inaccurate and untruthful.

The deputy press ombudsman, Johan Retief, found De Lange had tried to get comment from the ANC on the same issues the previous day, but Motshekga told him that he was not willing to engage the media on the matter as this would “pre-empt the process”.

Retief said as the second report the next day was on the same issues, there was no reason to believe the ANC would have changed its mind. Retief also found there was clearly confusion in ANC ranks, as sources in the report indicated.

Retief added that it was clear that the confusion was caused by replacing the parliamentary process with a party political process.

His finding vindicated De Lange on both charges laid by Motshekga. Requested to comment, Moloto Mothapo, spokesperson for Motshekga, said he had not yet studied the verdict and could therefore not make a comment.

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