Matodzi Makananisa vs. Daily Sun


Sat, Jan 28, 2017

Ruling by the Press Ombud

28 January 2017

This ruling is based on the written submissions of Mr Matodzi Makananisa and those of Johan Vos, deputy editor of the Daily Sun newspaper.

Makananisa is complaining about a story on page 4 in Daily Sun of 15 November 2016, headlined Media man accused of assaulting gogo.

Complaint                                            

Makananisa, of Limpopo Media and founder of the FAME awards, complains that the story attributed comments to him that he never made, that it neglected to publish comments he did make – and that this reportage affected his reputation as a media person.

The text

The article, written by Joshua Sebola, said that Makananisa’s mother (91) was “in trouble with her burial society for allegedly failing to pay the society”. Makananisa reportedly intervened, which landed him in trouble with the law.

The arguments

In particular, Makananisa complains about the following statements in the story: “Matodzi claims Flora, his mum, didn’t get her money in September when one of her beneficiaries died. Matodzi said his mum has been a club member of the burial society for years. ‘I wanted to ask for their constitution when a lady called Grace fought with me. The gogo was caught in the middle of our argument. She was pushed and fell...”

Makananisa says he told the journalist that he would SMS him his comment, lest he was misquoted. “I did text him not long after his request (for comment). Yet, he did not record my comment for publishing but instead made up comments I know nothing about,” he states.

His SMS read in full (unedited): “You can’t be where I am and not have your name dragged through the mud for ill purposes. Let them have their 5 minute of fame at my expense. I can’t discuss merits of the case because it is now before the court. But I’m glad my name will be cleared by court of law. I have full confidence in the processes of the law.”

Vos replies that Sebola went to cover Makananisa’s court case. The latter then related how the squabble started, which the journalist documented in his notes – to be used for writing his story. Later, Makananisa texted Sebola an additional comment, which was also included in the story.

In response to the above, Makananisa “categorically” denies that he gave the journalist any verbal comment. He says his attorney, Mr Machete, and his brother, Stanley, were present and are willing to testify in support of his complaint.

My considerations

This complaint leaves me between a rock and a hard place – the one party says “yes”, the other says “no”; the one has witnesses, the other has notes.

I do not believe that a hearing will solve this impasse, as neither party is likely to admit that it was wrong.

Be that as it may, I have asked Makananisa the following question: Apart from the fact that he denies saying those things, I need to understand just how / why he says that this has compromised his integrity. On the face of it, the statements were quite harmless?

I have given him ample time to respond to this question, but he failed to respond.

Finding

Based on the evidence at my disposal, or rather on the lack thereof, I am not in a situation to reach a concrete finding.

Appeal

Our 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