Appeal Decision: CA Swart vs Daily Dispatch


Mon, Sep 17, 2018

PRESS COUNCIL OF SOUTH AFRICA

In the matter between:

C A SWART                                                                                                         APPLICANT

AND

DAILY DISPATCH                                                                                         RESPONDENT

MATTER NO:3867/06/2018

DECISION ON APPLICATION FOR LEAVE TO APPEAL

1.         Daily Dispatch (“respondent”) published an article on 4 June 2018 with the headline “Failed to serve”.  The contents of the story was that certain ward councillors in the Buffalo City Metro had failed to hold monthly meetings with residents of their wards to hear their views from time to time.  The names and photos of defaulting councillors were published, amongst them Mr Andre Swart (“the applicant”).  The articles did report, however, that he said he had proof that he held the meetings in his ward.  In his Ruling dated 5 Juy 2018, the Press Ombud summarized applicant’s complaints.  He says the applicant complains that the journalist has published a:

l     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that he had proof that the allegation that he had not convened a ward meetig was false, and that this item had been withdrawn from the council’s agenda; and

l       Photograph of him and 14 other councillors that allegedly did not convene meetings.”

2.          In his concise Ruling dated 5 July 2018, the Ombud dismissed the appeal.  He found that subsequent to the publication of the story, the Democratic Alliance, of which the applicant was at all material times a member, had a meeting with the respondent at which the issue was resolved.  The Ruling says: “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”.  The Ombud went further: “The deciding factor in this regard is that Mr 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”. There is no need for me to add anything. I agree with the Ombud that “the matter was finalised when the newspaper published the DA’s views on the matter”.

3.         I hold that the applicant has no reasonable prospects of success on appeal; the application is therefore dismissed.

Dated this 14th day of September 2018

Judge B M Ngoepe, Chair, Appeals Panel