Appeal Decision: Mabuza Joseph Solly Madubula vs City Press

Tue, Oct 31, 2017

In the matter of



CITY PRESS                                                        RESPONDENT

MATTER NO: 3451/08/2017


1.       This is an application by Mr Mabuza Joseph Solly Madubula (“applicant”) to appeal the Ombud’s Ruling that he could not adjudicate on his complaints against City Press (“respondent”) as the complaints were lodged out of time, except one which was dismissed for a different reason.

2.       The complaints were in respect of the articles published on 8 May 2016, 15 June 2016, 11 June 2017 and 5 August 2017.  The applicant used to be the city manager of a municipality. One of the stories said he was dismissed after a new mayor came in, and allegedly unearthed some irregularities.

2.1 The complaints in respect of the first three articles were indeed out of time; they should have been lodged within 20 days of the publication of the stories complained about.  The Ombud found that no adequate explanation was given for the late lodging of the complaints; I agree with him.  I can only grant leave to appeal if the application shows reasonable prospects of success before the Appeals Panel that the Ombud was wrong.  There are no grounds for me to hold that there are such prospects, as no adequate explanation was given for the delay. The whole idea behind the mechanism for the resolution of complaints against the media is that matters be dealt with expeditiously.  It would defeat the whole purpose if complaints were to be lodged and heard long after the publication of stories complained about.

2.2 The complaint in respect of the stories published on 5 August 2017 was lodged in time.  But the Ombud correctly held that the story made no mention of the applicant.

3.       One of the complaints was that respondent wrongly reported that the applicant was dismissed from his job whereas he had resigned. It is a startling complaint.  Firstly, it is curious that the letter purporting to be resigning said the resignation was with effect from the very same day it was written; clearly, the situation was not healthy.  Very telling also is the fact that the applicant launched a case of unfair dismissal. How could that be so if he was not pushed?.

4.       It follows from the above that the application should fail; it is therefore dismissed.

Dated this 30th day of October 2017

Judge B M Ngoepe, Chair, Appeals Panel