Press Council can't probe Sunday Times

2013-05-28 08:31

Johannesburg - The Press Council of South Africa has told the communications department it cannot investigate a complaint of unethical conduct by Sunday Times reporters, a spokesperson said on Monday.

The council had said it had "no powers" to investigate, department spokesperson Wisani Ngobeni said in a statement.

In a letter to the department, the council wrote: "Unfortunately we are unable to deal with this complaint as the issue of unethical conduct by the editor is not covered by the Press Code. This matter can only be dealt with by the publication itself."

Ngobeni said the response raised serious questions about the efficacy of the Press Council of SA, under which the Press Ombudsman falls, in dealing with malpractice in the press.

"This effectively means that all complaints about journalistic malpractice must be referred to the transgressors of the Press Code of ethics," he said.

Ngobeni said he had written to the council asking it to investigate the conduct of Sunday Times editor Phylicia Oppelt.

This was in reaction to a report that she gave the Democratic Alliance documents to hand to Parliament's ethics committee, which is conducting an inquiry into Communications Minister Dina Pule.

'Lapdogs for political masters'

Oppelt told City Press she had felt obliged to do so because the Sunday Times was concerned the committee "might reach a finding based on partial or incomplete evidence".

At the time of the report, Ngobeni said that, as a result, the Sunday Times was "no longer just the messenger", but had "become part of the story". He cautioned that journalists not become "lapdogs for political masters".

In April, Pule held a media conference at which she alleged that the Sunday Times was staging a smear and blackmail campaign against her.

She claimed business people linked to the newspaper had a vested interest in trying to secure a multi-billion rand set-top-box tender and were willing to do anything to get it.

Set-top-boxes are required for the move from analogue to digital television broadcasting.

Pule detailed several Sunday Times stories written about her which, she claimed, sought to project her as a corrupt minister who could be bribed with a pair of shoes.

In the articles she was accused of giving tenders to a boyfriend, meddling in tender processes, and interfering in the appointment of officials to the boards of state-owned enterprises.

  • Glenda Gert - 2013-05-28 08:54

    The press can't govern itself. Government should move fast to address this...

      Sonny Jacobs - 2013-05-28 09:10

      Yeah and we will never hear of the Gupta gates, Nkandla etc. Will that make you happy?

      nu_un_clear - 2013-05-28 09:19

      Ja, Glenda, just like in N Korea, but don't forget, the government must then also regulate the Internet and put in place a curfew for ordinary citezens and reinstate the law that ALL men must go to the military. What is it with you people and communism?

      DerekMain - 2013-05-28 09:28

      @ nu_un_clear - That's right - the cANCer has learnt very well from the Nats they absorbed. All the dirty tricks of the Nats are now being used by the cANCer to oppress their own people. Phansi cANCer, phansi!!!

      Linds Ron-House - 2013-05-28 10:36

      Of course government must regulate certain things. Problem is we condemn them if they do and we also condemn them if they don't. Over regulationg doesn't work but free markets as advocated by the Free Market Foundation also doesn't work. For example there are diseases that have been completely eradicated through government regulation - forcing every child to be immunized.

      Linds Ron-House - 2013-05-28 10:39

      My problem with the media is that it spreads some untruths with become the dominant narrative. For example if you believe the media then you'd believe that white people are being excluded from the job market, which is patently untrue. All studies and statistics have disproved this myth, yet the media still spreads it.

      DerekMain - 2013-05-28 10:56

      "My problem with the media is that it spreads some untruths with become the dominant narrative." Uuumm - something like "The DA will bring back apartheid" or "Only the ANC liberated SA" or "Jacob Zuma is not corrupt" or "All textbooks have been delivered" or "There is no crisis" Phansi cANCer, phansi!!!

  • JMaree - 2013-05-28 08:56

    Juda plays the race card and automatically looses because of an inferiority complex...

  • Sbo Kubeka - 2013-05-28 09:08

    This raises serious concerns abt press objectivity...They are usually very good at protecting their sources and yet they were eager to provide documents to a political party? hmmm

      Marc Ross - 2013-05-28 11:08

      Because it was in the public interest. Of the 15 cases JZ initiated against the press (incl Zapiro) he either withdrew or lost 14 with costs. Which means the cases were frivolous at best. If Pule is so convinced of a conspiracy against her let her go to court and sue for damages. Or does she believe the courts are against her too. A word to our ANC masters: "the pen is mighter than the sword, but if you steal the pen only the sword remains" ANC the choice is yours.

  • DerekMain - 2013-05-28 09:23

    This woman (and her man) are corrupt to the core. They should both be jailed let alone fired. But then, in the eyes of cANCer, they have done no wrong since they have done no worse than the rest of that criminal bunch. Phansi cANCer, phansi!!!

  • Tim Gaul - 2013-05-28 09:29

    Dina Pule is the problem, not the press who have evidence to back up their claims. I dare her to take them to court, then all the dirty laundry will be aired!

  • Allan Whitton - 2013-05-28 10:37

    The Press must never be allowed to investigate themselves as it would be biased, not like DG's investigating their bosses which is totally acceptable and unbiased.

  • Pieter Schoombee - 2013-05-28 12:06

    1. About which news report is Ngobeni complaining? He has failed to say. 2. Which articles of the Press Code have been "violated"? 3. Does he take instructions from Min Pule?

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