Ombudsman dismisses Pule complaints

2013-06-22 16:24
Minister of Communications Dina Pule. (Picture: GCIS)

Minister of Communications Dina Pule. (Picture: GCIS)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - The Press Ombudsman has on Saturday dismissed three complaints made by Communications Minister Dina Pule against the Sunday Times.

One of the complaints made by Pule concerned the editor of the Sunday Times, Phylicia Oppelt.

Pule complained that Oppelt had acted unethically by handing over information to Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard and accused the newspaper of thereby having lost its independence in favour of the DA.

This led to Parliament's ethics committee investigating Pule.

Pule argued that the editor's actions raised serious questions about the newspaper's independence and its adherence to the Press Code. "The Sunday Times is no longer just the messenger. It has become part of the story," she argued.

The Sunday Times said it co-operated with the ethics committee and not with a political party, after it was approached by various members, including members of the DA, the African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party.

The Sunday Times said it shared the information as the committee was constituted largely on account of its stories and because the findings of the ethics committee would be directly relevant to the stories it had published.

Press Ombudsman Johan Retief said in a statement released on Saturday that he had investigated the two stories that Pule had complained about and the circumstances surrounding the provision of information to the Parliament's portfolio committee.

"I could find no trace of evidence that the newspaper has lost its independence in favour of the DA or that it could justifiably be accused of unethical behaviour in this matter," he said.

The complaint was dismissed in its entirety. Pule complained about a story published by the Sunday Times on 5 May 2013.

She complained that the story falsely stated that attorney Ronny Bokwa had been her lawyer and that she had apologised to the Sunday Times after accusing it of a smear campaign.

She complained that the story said she had a "gratuitous" relationship with deputy director-general Themba Phiri. Pule said the story said that Bokwa told Sunday Times that Phiri had instructed him to broker an "armistice" with the newspaper as they had wronged the publication.

Bokwa reportedly said that his perception had been that he had a mandate to apologise to the newspaper.

Retief found that the Sunday Times arguments on the matter were convincing.

"I also have no reason to believe that Bokwa misrepresented his position, as a motive for such a possible deception escapes me. This means that I believe that the Sunday Times was justified in reporting Bokwa's views as representing that of the department of communications."

Retief dismissed the complaint in its entirety.

Pule also complained that a Sunday Times story published on 21 April 2013 falsely reported that she had blown R2.6m on a recruitment deal that led to the appointment of cronies of her boyfriend Phosane Mngqibisa. She further complained that the story said that she had bypassed Treasury rules and ensured that recruitment firm Mindworx was awarded the tender without a bidding process.

Pule complained that statements made in the Sunday Times story conveyed a message that she had contravened or circumvented the law in order to enrich her alleged boyfriend.

Retief said the Sunday Times reporting was reasonable at the time of publication and he could not find loopholes or shortcomings in its arguments.

"Based on all of the above, I can only conclude that the newspaper's reportage on this point was fair and reasonable," he said.

The complaint was also dismissed in its entirety.

Retief said that the Press Ombudsman was not interested in the merits or demerits of the allegations against Pule but only concerned about whether the Sunday Times was in breach of the Press Code or justified in its reportage.

Read more on:    sunday times  |  dina pule  |  johannesburg

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.