Independent Newspapers 'vindicated' by settlement

2016-05-09 14:38
Alide Dasnois outside the Labour Court. (Thulani Gqirana, News24)

Alide Dasnois outside the Labour Court. (Thulani Gqirana, News24)

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Cape Town – The settlement of the case between former Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois and Independent Newspapers vindicates the company’s position, they said on Monday.

This follows the withdrawal of the unfair dismissal case against them by Dasnois, following an agreement reached.

In a hard hitting statement contradicting some of the points of the joint announcement of the settlement, Independent said the company had an absolute right to act against any editor who demonstrated poor editorial judgement.

They said Dasnois made a mistake that will forever be a mark on her career, and remained “forever” the only editor not to lead with the Nelson Mandela death story on December 6, 2013. 

“I really feel sorry for Alide who chose to reduce her entire career to one indefensible decision based on everything but editorial imperatives that night. Deep down, in her heart of hearts, she knows this was wrong. I wish her well in her future career,” said Independent Media chairperson Dr Iqbal Survé. 

The paper led with an article on an adverse finding by the Public Protector regarding an R800m fishing vessel management tender awarded to a subsidiary of Sekunjalo, the holding company of Independent Newspapers and Media SA, on the day of Mandela's death.

Independent Newspapers said it was their view that the former editor’s case was flimsy, had no basis in law or Constitution and was driven by “quixotic public posturing, and had nothing to do with issues of press freedom”. 

‘Not motivated by racism’

In the settlement agreement filed in the Labour Court on Friday, Independent Newspapers conceded that her decision was not intended by any way to show disrespect for Nelson Mandela.  

They also acknowledged that she was not motivated by racism. 

In their statement on Monday, however, they slammed her decision again.

“We maintain that this was an affront to the dignity and legacy of democratic South Africa’s founder, although Dasnois has subsequently claimed this was not her intention. We must also emphasise that every editor in the Independent group – and virtually every other journalist – disagreed with Dasnois’s decision despite her subsequent public posturing.”

Dasnois said on Monday she would not do anything differently, and hailed the settlement as a victory for all journalists.

She said she never thought one decision over "an icon" would have led to her dismissal.

Open Democracy Advice Centre, speaking on behalf of Dasnois, laughed off Independent’s victory lap.

“They still conceded that it was her editorial prerogative,” head of Advocacy Alison Tilley said.

Read more on:    independent newspapers  |  alide dasnois  |  iqbal surve  |  cape town  |  media

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