Appeal Decision: Nova Property Holdings and Moneyweb 7792


Thu, Oct 15, 2020

BEFORE THE APPEL PANEL OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN PRESS COUNCIL

In the matter between

NOVA PROPERTY HOLDINGS LIMITED                                                       APPLICANT

AND

MONEYWEB                                                                                                   RESPONDENT

MATTER NO: 7792/02/2020

DECISION ON AN APPLICATION FOR LEAVE TO APPEAL

  1. This is one of a series of applications for leave to launched by Nova Property Group (“applicant”) in a matter between the applicant and Moneyweb (“the respondent”). The dates of publication in some complaints are common, so too the headlines.
  2. For a good measure, I restate the Ombud’s summary of the complaints in his Ruling of 21 August 2020: “The gist of Nova’s complaint is that the sub-headline and the article falsely and maliciously stated that:
  • it was ‘… to be investigated for possible transgressions of tax legislation and the Companies Act’ (sub-headline);
  • the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (Irba) ‘has referred a reportable irregularity (RI), filed by the company’s auditor Nexia SAB&T related to Nova last year, to the South African Revenue Service (Sars) and the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) for investigation’ (article); and
  • the RI might point to fraud or amount to theft, ‘or represent a material breach on any fiduciary duty’.”
  1. Then there are other complaints: an innuendo that Nova might have contravened the provisions of the Companies Act and tax regulations. There is a complaint that respondent provided a platform for the public that was used to say irrelevant things, to express hate speech, aggressive, insults, venom etc against applicant and individuals. The office of the Press Ombud is then asked to ensure that respondent does not use that platform.
  2. The reason I restated the Ombud’s summary of the complaints, and added other in  paragraph 3 above, is to demonstrate that there is nothing new in this complaint as compared to those I have already dealt with; such as complaints 7828, 7829 and 7830; at least some of them; particularly between 7792 and 7795. The grounds of appeal are also substantially similar; e.g. that the Ombud could have been influenced by his unhappiness with the language use. It should be noted that all these matters are between the same parties. I therefore need not keep on repeating myself; I do not have the resources and luxury of time to keep that. I therefore refer the parties to my Decisions in the above matters.
  3. It is clear that Mr Myburgh wants to use the process enshrined in the Press Code to restrain Moneyweb from writing unfavourable things about Nova, including especially about himself. In this respect, I refer to paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 in my Decision in matter 7795.
  4. It is therefore my view that the application has no prospects of success, and it is therefore turned down.

Dated this 13th day of October 2020

Judge B M Ngoepe, Chair, Appeals Panel