Mbalekwa Sindane vs. Daily Sun


Fri, May 25, 2018

Ruling by the Press Ombud

24 May 2018

PARTICULARS

 

Complainants

 

 

Mbalekwa Sindane

 

Date of article

 

 

5 April 2018

 

Headline

 

 

I hope my attacker rots in jail!

 

Page

 

 

14

 

Online

 

 

Yes

 

Author of article

 

 

Karabo Rammutla

 

Respondent

 

 

Johan Vos, deputy editor; Rammutla

Complaint                                            

Sindane says the story falsely stated that he had:

·         found his girlfriend sleeping with someone (while she was not even in the house);

·         knocked on the door and even peeped through a window to see what was going on inside;

·         said that he still wanted to marry his girlfriend; and

·         been advised by Cullinan police spokeswoman Constable Connie Moganedi to visit the police station if he had not been happy with the progress of the case, adding that the investigating officer did not execute his duties properly as his assailant had not been arrested.

Note: I cannot adjudicate this last part of his complaint, as my mandate is restricted to what the newspaper has published – I have no mandate to pronounce on what the Police have done or ought to have done.

The text

The article says that Sindane heard loud “screams of pleasure” when he visited the place where his girlfriend stayed. Thinking that she might have rented out her room to lovers, he angrily knocked at the door, after which he peeped through the window to see what was happening.

He reportedly got the shock of his life when he saw his girlfriend in bed with another man.

The man then allegedly came out of the house and started to beat him. “I want him to rot in jail for beating me,” he reportedly said.

Analysis

Rammutla says he got his information from Sindane himself – and his photographer corroborates his version of what the source told the two of them.

This has left me between a rock and a hard place – I had two people’s word against one, with no way of ascertaining with any reasonable amount of certainty who was telling the truth.

I have therefore met with Sindane, and a few days later with the two journalists and their bureau chief in Pretoria, to hear their stories first-hand. Vos was present on both occasions.

The outcome was disappointing, but it was what was to be expected – both sides stuck to their stories.

My office has also tried on several occasions to get hold of the woman’s brother, as Sindane told me he was a witness to the whole affair. This person never answered his phone, nor did he respond to a message to call back.

This has left me with no reasonable ground to come to a responsible finding. I am also taking into account that I could not discern a single reason why the two journalists should have lied to the public and to me.

Given this situation, I have no reason to find against the newspaper.

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