Editor denies Mkhize’s claims

2010-08-17 17:23

Durban - The editor of the Sunday Tribune on Tuesday said it was untrue that the newspaper had refused to apologise to KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize following an article that claimed that his wife and daughter had received a lucrative government contracts.

"It is untrue that the Sunday Tribune refused to apologise to the premier. On July 11 an apology in the article in question was on the website and published on the same day," said editor Philani Mgwaba.

"Subsequently the original article was removed from the internet."

On Tuesday, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize lashed out at the paper for refusing to apologise to him on the internet.

"I received a fax at 16:00 yesterday (Monday) giving me 48 hours to publish the apology," said Mgwaba.

"He (Mkhize) had already called the press briefing. He did not afford me the opportunity to respond." said Mgwaba.

Government tenders

Mkhize held a news conference on Tuesday, saying he would take the Sunday Tribune to court, if it refused to publish an apology about the article on the internet.

The Sunday Tribune published an article that said Mkhize's wife, May, and daughter, Nokulinda, had received large government tenders.

The Press Ombudsman ruled the article was in breach of the Press Code and directed the paper to apologise to Mkhize.

"This article did not only contain baseless and inaccurate allegations but it was also a direct attack on me as the premier of KZN and also defamed by family," said Mkhize.

After the ruling made by the Press Ombudsman, the Sunday Tribune published an apology on July 11.

"The Sunday Tribune initially sent through the apology they intended to publish, which looked more like and opinion piece and showed clear insistence on their part that they still believed that they were correct in publishing the defamatory article but were merely apologising because they had been instructed to do so," said Mkhize.

Apology ‘hidden’ on website

He said the paper had chosen to drag the matter further by leaving misleading information about him and his family on the internet.

He also said when the request was made to post the apology the paper decided to "hide" it in their website so that it can only be accessed by subscribers only.

"This, in my view, is dodgy, malicious and raises a lot of questions about the Sunday Tribune's journalism ethics," said Mkhize.

He said he informed the Press Ombudsman about his concerns and the apology had also not been posted to on the internet.

Court threat

"The newspaper actually undermines the Office of the Press Ombudsman. It creates an impression that the media may disregard the spirit of the Ombudsman's ruling and get away with impunity," said Mkhize.

The premier said he was satisfied by the ruling of the Ombudsman and had high respect for the office in the manner and speed the issue was dealt with.

He said he had also received legal advice and was told his case was strong if it would be taken to court.

He told reporters that if the Sunday Tribune refused to publish the apology online he would then take the matter to court.