André Swart vs. Daily Dispatch


Thu, Jul 5, 2018

Ruling by the Press Ombud

5 July 2018

PARTICULARS

 

Date of texts

 

 

4 and 6 June 2018

 

 

Headlines

 

 

Failed to serve – BCM names and shames councillors who fail to hold ward meetings; and

Clarity on ‘failed to serve’

 

 

Pages

 

 

1; 6

 

Author of article

 

 

Zolile Menzelwa

 

Respondent

 

 

Kariem Hassan, internal ombud

Complaint                                            

Swart complains that the journalist has published a:

·         front-page story, in spite of the fact that he had informed the reporter that he had proof that the allegation that he had not convened a ward meeting was false, and that this item had been withdrawn from the council’s agenda; and

·         photograph of him and 14 other councillors that allegedly did not convene meetings.

He adds that the reportage has tarnished his name and character.

He says he is not satisfied with the newspaper’s “watered-down” apology.  

The arguments

Hassan says the newspaper met with a DA delegation soon after the story had been published.  According to news editor Mike Loewe, it was agreed that the newspaper would give the DA a right of reply – which was published shortly after the meeting.

Hassan denies it was agreed that the Daily Dispatch would apologise for the report. He concludes, “The Dispatch has done what was accepted by the DA and we stand by the agreement.”

Analysis

The question is if Swart has the locus standi to lodge this complaint, given the fact that the newspaper has already afforded the DA a right of reply.

The deciding factor in this regard is that Swart was present at the meeting where the matter was discussed, and a solution agreed upon.

It would have been a different matter if he was not part of that deal – but he was. I consider it a bit rich for one of the delegates at the meeting to agree on a right of reply, and then – afterwards – to complain to this office as well.

As far as I am concerned, the matter was finalised when the newspaper published the DA’s views on the matter.

Finding

The complaint is dismissed.

Appeal

The Complaints Procedures lay down that within seven working days of receipt of this decision, either party may apply for leave to appeal to the Chairperson of the SA Press Appeals Panel, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, fully setting out the grounds of appeal. He can be contacted at Khanyim@ombudsman.org.za.

Johan Retief

Press Ombud