Madubula Mabuza vs City Press


Tue, Aug 29, 2017

Dear Mr Mabuza,

You complain about the following stories in City Press:

·         R84.1m: a 3km dirt road for 20 homes (8 May 2016);

·         Cost of Mkhondo’s R84m, 3km dirt road project suddenly drops to R30m (15 June 2016);

·         Mayor who cancelled tenders survives hit) (11 June 2017); and

·         Jobs reserved for cadres (5 August 2017).

You say this reportage has put your life in danger, has tarnished your reputation and dignity, and has put strain on your personal life; you ask for condonation to submit a complaint as your rights were violated and the reportage about you was untrue.

You mention that you have asked your legal team last year to lodge a complaint, but due to some administrative problems this has never materialized.

Section 1.3 of the Complaints Procedures allows this office to accept late complaints if “there is a good and satisfactory reason for the delay”.

There is no such reason regarding the two articles which were published in 2016. You says you were was only informed on 11 August 2017 that your legal team has failed to comply – but, if the matter was so urgent, one would have expected you to have followed up on it and not be informed (more than a year later) that his complaint has never been lodged in the first place.

The latest story, published on August 5 this year, did not mention your name nor did it refer to you by implication. As there is (therefore) nothing for you to complain about in this specific article, there is also nothing for this office to adjudicate on.

This leaves me with the story published on 11 June 2017. The complaint regarding this article was exactly one month late, so I was willing to consider to entertain this complaint – if a good enough reason for it being late was proffered.

Your attempt to lodge a complaint last year could not have included this specific story. This means that you have offered no explanation whatsoever as to why your complaint about this specific story was lodged out of time.

If no reason is given, there is nothing for me to consider either.

The only possible reason why I may make an exception in this case, is because of its urgency (read: the allegation that the reportage has endangered your life). However, if that be the case, that would have given you all the more reason to complain immediately.

Under these circumstances I have no option but to decide not to entertain any of your complaints.

The Complaints Procedures lay down that within seven working days of receipt of this decision, you 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.

Regards,

Johan