Appeal Decision: Nampree vs Sunday World
Thu, May 27, 2021
In the matter of
SUNDAY WORLD RESPONDENT
MATTER NO: 8535 & 8545/01/2021
DECISION ON APPLICATION FOR LEAVE TO APPEAL
- Nampree (“applicant) lodged a complaint against Sunday World (“respondent”) in respect of the story, published in print on 24 January 2021 and then online on 25 January 2021, with the headline “Details of Euphonik and Fresh ‘rape’ emerge”. As the headline indicates, the story reported that the applicant had made claims that she was raped by the above mentioned two DJ’s. She said she had been given some drinks, after which she passed out, and upon coming to, found that she had been penetrated. The two DJ’s were around her, and laughing. There were subsequently a lot of developments; but I will cut to the chase. After the story broke out, there trended on social platform an alleged apology by the applicant for making the false accusation against the two. One of the accused, Euphonik, claimed to have received the apology, which he later quickly removed. The applicant denied sending the apology. The story said that the respondent had seen applicant’s sworn statement to the police, and that the article was therefore based on it.
- In his Ruling, dated 26 April 2021, the Ombud put the applicant’s complaints as follows:
“1.1 Regarding both articles, Ms Nampree complains she never gave consent to the newspaper to publish her sworn statement to the SAPS. This, she argues, infringed her right to privacy, confidentiality and her right of protection under law.
- She also wants to know how the newspaper obtained a sworn statement in possession of the SAPS.
- Nampree also complaints that the second article:
- Falsely said that she had aplogised to Euphonic and DF Fresh for accusing them of raping her (she says she has denied this on Twitter, yet the newspaper went ahead to publish);
- Victimsed her as a victim of sexual assault; and
Tarnished her dignity and reputation.
- She also asks why the reporter did not seek her views prior to publication.
- She asks for a reprimand and an apology.”
- In its response, the respondent contended that it has based its story on the applicant’s statement to the police, which given to the respondent by a source. It should be noted that the applicant had also complained about the manner in which a copy of the statement was acquired by the respondent.
- There was also a subsequent story by the respondent about the applicant, that went into some graphic details about how she had had sex with another man in a car before the alleged rape by the two DJ’s.The source of the story was the man concerned, who added that the sexual encounter was fuelled by alcohol on the part of both of them. The story was in effect contradicting the applicant’s claim that the two DJ’s had broken her virginity. The respondent did not deny publishing the story, with all those details.
- In his Ruling, the Ombud dismissed all the complaints relating to the first article. Regarding the second story, the complaint that the applicant’s views were not sought was dismissed. With regard to the issue of the alleged apology by the applicant to the two DJ’s, the Ombud found that the respondent had acted in breach of the Code; namely, sections 1.1 to 1.3, 1.7 and 3.3. The reason was that the respondent had stated as a fact that the applicant had apologized to the two DJ’s whereas the applicant had denied issuing the apology. The Ombud found that the respondent should have and could have verified whether the alleged apology had in fact been issued by the applicant. The Ombud also held that by publishing the unnecessary graphic details of the alleged encounter between the applicant and the other man, the respondent hurt the dignity and reputation of the applicant. A sanction was imposed in respect of all the above transgressions.
- The applicant has lodge an application for leave to appeal the dismissal of some of her complaints. The question I have to wrestle with is whether, an appeal, the applicant would have reasonable prospects of success. Having considered the reasons given by the Ombud, I am afraid I see no such prospects. The application raises a point that often bothers complainants. They do not always appreciate the fact that when a journalist relies on an official document, they do not need to seek the views of the affected person. In the present case, the respondent relied on applicant’s statement filed with the police, that is, a court document. It is immaterial how the copy was obtained. But the applicant also raises a troubling point. She says the copy of her statement was leaked by the accused, having been obtained through their lawyers. If that is true, the matter would be serious and the system would have to be looked at. Copies of victims’ statements are given to the accused’s lawyers for a particular legitimate purpose, namely, to help them prepare for the trial; it would be frowned upon if they were then given to the media for some ulterior purpose. Unfortunately it is a matter that falls outside our purview.
- In the end though, as I have already said, there are no reasonable prospects of success on appeal. The application therefore fails.
Dated this 27th day of May 2021
Judge B M Ngoepe, Chair, Appeals Panel