Bonang Matheba vs. Drum


Mon, Feb 18, 2013

 

 

Ruling by the Deputy Press Ombudsman and the Press Appeals Panel

February 18, 2013

This ruling is based on the written submissions of Mr Bongani Khoza (attorney), for Ms Bonang Matheba, and on those of Drum magazine and its attorney, as well as on a hearing that was held on 30 January 2013 in Johannesburg. Present at the hearing were the complainant and her attorney; Drum magazine was represented by its editor Makhosazana Zwane-Siguqa and attorney, Mr Pieter Conradie. The two members of the Panel who assisted the Deputy Press Ombudsman were Peter Mann (press representative) and Brian Gibson (public representative).

COMPLAINT

Ms Bonang Matheba complains about a cover story in Drum on 19 July 2012 and headlined IT’S A WAR – As the fight between Bonang and Euphonik heats up and gets dirtier, the truth seems hard to find. On the cover was a picture of her with the word “Exclusive” followed by the words: Bonang’s claims on how Euphonik is out to get her after she reported alleged assault – plus his response. Immediately below were the cover-lines in capital letters: I didn’t have an abortion; I’m not a drug addict; and He’s trying to destroy me.

Matheba’s main complaint is that the:

·         story was not in the public interest, that it was in bad taste, and that Drum did not exercise exceptional care and consideration involving her dignity and reputation;

·         magazine published a medical record that was not hers and that it did not obtain consent from the person whose name appears on the record;

·         journalists did not verify their facts;

·         cover-lines on the front page were falsely attributed to her and that they did not reasonably reflect the content of the story; and

·         article was malicious.

She also complains that the:

·         story mentioned a lawyer’s letter addressed to Drum’s editor only in part, and adds that that information was falsely attributed to Mr Simphiwe Majola (an employee of the firm that handles Matheba’s publicity);

·         journalists made no attempt to contact her;

·         magazine used a file picture of her; and

·         headline and the caption did not reasonably reflect the facts.

ANALYSIS

The story was about a bitter dispute between Matheba, who had laid a charge of assault against another celebrity (and at that time her former boyfriend), Themba Nkosi (Euphonik). The article also dealt with rumours about Matheba’s alleged abortion, her alleged sexual conduct and alleged drug addiction.

The main complaint

No public interest; bad taste; dignity and reputation

In this sub-section, the panel is not evaluating the content of the various allegations and assumptions contained in the article (we shall deal with these immediately hereafter) – at this stage we are concerned with the mere fact that Drum published some sensational material about Matheba.

This distinction is of crucial importance in order to establish:

·         if Drum was justified in putting public interest above that of Matheba’s dignity and reputation; and

·         if so, did the way in which the magazine went about it meet the criteria of the Press Code.

We are therefore now dealing with Matheba’s complaint that there was no public interest in her private life, that the story was in bad taste, and that Drum did not exercise exceptional care and consideration involving her dignity and reputation.

The panel notes that “bad taste” does not, by default breach the Press Code.

Much was made at the hearing of whether or not Matheba performed at a Drum function. That is not relevant, as she did address many other public meetings all over the country. She also often appears on television.

These are the panel’s considerations:

·         If someone chooses a public life, he or she accepts a concomitant legitimate public interest and an associated lack of privacy. Indeed the Code (Art. 5) explicitly deals with this, but it implies the exercise of judgement to achieve the balance;

·         Matheba is a relatively minor celebrity, so the weight of the balance may fall more towards her privacy; and

·         However, this is offset to some extent by the fact that she was in court and had a restraining order, which made the issue legitimately newsworthy and accordingly reduced her right to privacy – which tilts the scales the other way.

In the end, the panel is convinced that she is a celebrity or a public figure (there is an abundance of evidence to this effect), and that the magazine was therefore entitled to publish sensational claims about her conduct in the public interest, which in this case overrode her right to dignity and reputation.

In other words: The fact that Drum published sensational claims was in itself not in breach of the Press Code. However, the content of these claims was a different kettle of fish.

Medical records

Matheba complains that Drum published a medical record that was not hers and that it did not obtain consent from the person whose name appears on the record. She also argues that the medical record was obtained by dishonest or unfair means.

Drum replied that it had not obtained the medical record dishonestly or unlawfully as a source faxed the record to the magazine. The editor said: “The medical record provided to Drum is one of the sources for the rumour that Ms Matheba terminated her pregnancy. If Drum didn’t allude to these documents, the abortion allegation against Ms Matheba would have been very unfair. Providing proof for allegations is what the media should do essentially, basing stories on rumours would be a flawed strategy. Proper care was taken by Drum by researching the allegation and having proof in the form of a legal medical record …”

Subsequent to the hearing the panel asked Conradie precisely how Drum had obtained the medical records. He replied that a source at a medical aid company had contacted a Drum journalist with the news that s/he was in possession of a document that suggested that Matheba had had an abortion. Drum then asked for a copy to confirm the information, which the source sent to the magazine.

Drum and its attorney told the hearing that the source was subsequently dismissed by the medical aid company.

The questions are if it was legal for Drum to have:

·         been in possession of the records; and

·         published the records without Matheba’s consent.

In this regard, the panel noted Judge Mahomed Jajbhay’s High Court judgement in the matter between the former Minister of Health Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and Johnnic Publications (now Times Media Ltd.) in August 2007, which was about the Sunday Times having possessed and published her medical records. The newspaper said that, due to her health, Msimang was not fit to occupy a high office and strongly used the public interest argument to justify publication of her medical records.

Jajbhay quoted Section 14 of the National Health Act that deals with confidentiality. It states: “(1) All information concerning a user (a patient), including information relating to his or her health status…is confidential; (2) …no person may disclose any information contemplated in sub-section (1) unless (a) the user consents to that disclosure in writing; (b) a court order or any law requires that disclosure; or (c) non-disclosure of the information represents a serious threat to public health.”

He also said that any person who, without authority, copies any part of a record connects the personal identification elements of a user’s records with any element of that record that concerns the user’s conditions, treatment or history, and gains unauthorised access to a record or record keeping system commits an offence and is liable to a fine or to imprisonment.

The judge argued that it was clear from the Act that medical records are private and confidential, and that, in principle, any disclosure of such facts constituted an infringement of the right to privacy. He added: “This information is confidential because it is the user who has control over the information about himself or herself. It is also the user who can decide to keep it confidential from others.” He added that such information was worth protecting “as an aspect of human autonomy and dignity”.

Jajbhay concluded: “The Sunday Times, does not have any right to the medical records of the first applicant (Msimang), either to possess or otherwise to have access to them. It also does not have a right to retain any copies of such records or any part of them.”

Towards the end of his verdict, the judge expressed the hope that the South African Press Ombudsman “will fervently consider” the conduct of the newspaper. Even though such an investigation fell outside the scope of our adjudication, we did find the Jajbhay ruling helpful in the current matter.

Moreover, we note that the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1996 says: “

·         7. (5) The identity of a woman who has requested or obtained a termination of pregnancy shall remain confidential at all times unless she herself chooses to disclose that information.

·         10. (2) Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of Section 7 shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months.”

It is within the light of the above that the panel interprets Art. 2.1, 4.1 and Art. 5 of the Press Code (see under “Finding”). These clauses address the legality of gathering news, privacy, dignity and reputation.

Given Matheba’s Constitutional rights, the panel decided not to question her denial that the records were hers, but to rather focus on the fact that Drum had published medical records and alleged that they were hers.

The panel has decided that by no stretch of the imagination could Drum have been justified by “public interest” to either possess or to publish what it claimed to be Matheba’s medical records without her prior, written approval.

The panel holds the view that Drum’s possession and publication of what was said to be Matheba’s medical records without her consent not only was in breach of the Press Code, but also against the law.

No verification

Matheba complains that Drum did not verify the allegations in the story. Khoza wrote: “The so-called source of the magazine could not have such knowledge about Matheba’s private life to the extent that Drum would publish the information without conducting a thorough investigation to verify the information.”

Upon close scrutiny of the whole story (and excluding the issues relating to medical records), the panel was satisfied that the following sentences needed verification: “Another damning allegation is that the brand ambassador (Matheba) for Peugeot and designer Gert-Johan Coetzee is apparently a drug addict who also features on a raunchy sex tape with a certain hip-hop artist. She’s also apparently a cheat who has been linked to a Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana soccer star, as well as a former colleague at Live.”

The magazine said in its submission that it had “three other collaborating sources regarding the allegations made against Ms Matheba regarding her alleged drug use, sexual indiscretions and ultimately the alleged termination of her pregnancy. All these are proven close associates of Ms Matheba (usually seen together at public functions and celebrity gatherings)”.

At the hearing, Drum said that one of its employees had seen a portion of a video tape that showed Matheba dancing topless at a party, covering her breasts with money. The magazine testified that cocaine had been used at this party (in an attempt to justify its reference to “drug addict”). Conradie also asserted that the magazine was justified in assuming that Matheba had participated in an orgy after witnessing the cocaine part of the tape.

This tape was not at the panel’s disposal.

Drum’s representatives were vague as to the credibility and independence of the other two alleged sources that it claimed to have.

The panel noted that the story reported that Matheba had been locked in a bitter dispute with Euphonik and that her former partner had threatened that the issue was going to get ugly. Yet Drum simply accepted and published allegations from anonymous sources – some of whom wanted to be paid for their information. The magazine did not exercise reasonable care in questioning the motives of these sources.

In its defence, the magazine referred the panel to an article in Destiny, which referred to “accusations of hard partying” and “rumours of drug use”.

However, the panel states that:

·         something is not true just because it was published somewhere else (Destiny) – another publication can normally not be an independent source;

·         the allegations are so serious that the words “allegation” and “apparently” are not enough to sufficiently soften the harm done to Matheba;

·         although what might have been cocaine allegedly appeared in the video , the magazine could not prove that it had been a drug – it merely assumed that that had been the case;

·         Drum acknowledged that the tape did not actually show Matheba using cocaine;

·         even if Matheba had used cocaine, it still does not justify Drum’s use of the word “addict” – although one can easily get addicted to cocaine, there is a vital difference between a “user” (which is not even proven in this case) and an “addict”; and

·         Destiny, in any event, used the word “used” and not “addicted”.

The panel notes with concern that Drum based its reportage on drug addiction, the tape, etc.; on unproven assumptions.

Moreover, even though Drum said that it based these damning allegations on three or four sources, the story mentioned only one (anonymous) source. This office has often warned about the dangers of using anonymous – particular single – sources, as it may be that the source has ulterior motives and wants to mislead the journalist for his/her own agenda.

The panel is not able to rule on the veracity of any of these allegations, nor is it our job to do so. We are concerned merely with whether the magazine was justified in reporting any of them – based on a single, anonymous source whose information Drum did not verify.

The answer is a resounding “no”. The panel can find no evidence that Drum adhered to the Press Code in this regard.

Cover lines

The cover-lines read:

·         I didn’t have an abortion;

·         I’m not a drug addict; and

·         He’s trying to destroy me.

Matheba complains that the:

·         cover-lines on the front page were wrongly attributed to her, creating the false impression that she had been interviewed; and

·         cover-lines did not reasonably reflect the content of the story.

The story made it clear that Drum did not interview Matheba.

Two documents are relevant here, both directed to Drum – her publicist, Majola’s correspondence on 5 July, and her attorney, Khoza’s letter the next day.

Both Khoza and Majola wrote that Matheba “…rightfully will not discuss (the matters) as they are sub judice. Matheba will decide on whether to speak or not at the appropriate time”. However, they also stated: “None of the allegations that you are enquiring about are correct.”

Khoza also implored Drum not to publish any article in this regard and warned that he would seek an interdict from the High Court to prevent the magazine from publishing if indeed the magazine was determined to publish.

Drum stated in its written submission that these two, written, denials provided the basis for the first two cover-lines. The magazine claimed that Matheba had formally denied the allegations in writing via both Khoza and Majola – and argued that it was therefore entitled to publish those denials as Matheba’s comments.

The magazine asserted that the third cover-line was taken from submissions in court and stated that they “… are the essential elements of the article and reflect the complainant’s denial of the rumours”.

At the hearing, Drum reiterated this argument – Conradie argued that Majola’s and Khoza’s denial of the veracity of the allegations indeed amounted to comment from Matheba.

The first question addressed by the panel is whether the magazine was entitled to use Majola’s and Khoza’s denial as her comment.

Common to both Majola’s and Khoza’s interactions with Drum were words to the effect that Matheba would not comment as the matter had been sub judice and that, therefore, she had reserved her right to speak about the issue in a manner and place of her choosing. Her intention and her brief were perfectly plain – she has not going to comment at that stage.

Moreover, there is evidence in a series of emails between Khoza and Drum which demonstrate his on-going attempts to find out whether Drum was indeed publishing a story – so that he could interdict the magazine. These culminated in him discovering that the report had indeed been published.

The so-called comment denying these allegations should therefore be interpreted in this context.

The panel is of the opinion that the intention of these letters was clearly not to offer comment, but to do the opposite, namely to prevent publication – warning, as Khoza did, that his instructions were to seek an interdict to prevent publication. (We note that Drum neglected to mention this aspect of Khoza’s communication in its story.)

There was no justification for Drum choosing to use the denials in this manner. They can be seen as legalistic pro forma denials. It is incorrect for the magazine to use them without disclosing that it was under legal threat of an interdict.

It is certainly not in dispute that Matheba never uttered any of the cover strapline words to Drum. The magazine had no right to publish them as if they were her direct quotes. They were words made up by Drum itself.

The next question is if Khoza could have spoken on Matheba’s behalf (which would possibly have justified the newspaper in ascribing his words to Matheba).

Drum said it believed that he had.

Khoza argued that he was Matheba’s attorney, not her spokesperson, and that Majola was the only one who could speak on her behalf.

His argument does not hold water – a publication may use information obtained from an attorney who represents a client, irrespective of whether that client has another official spokesperson or not.

However, this argument is academic, as the panel has already decided that both Khoza’s and Majola’s denials were not meant for publication. Drum was therefore not justified in ascribing Khoza’s not-for-comment words to her.

The panel believes that the cover-lines misled ordinary readers into believing that the magazine had interviewed Matheba (which it had not) or obtained formal comment from her representatives (which it also did not).

This also means that the cover-lines did not reasonably reflect the content of the story.

Malice

Matheba complains that the story was malicious towards her.

The same sentences that we discussed above are relevant here.

In this sub-section, the panel now attempts to pull together all of the above and tries to evaluate the article as a whole. Do the possession and publication of Matheba’s medical records, the lack of verification, the reliance on a source that may have had ulterior motives, and the erroneous and misleading quoting of Matheba amount to malice?

“Malice” is always an extremely serious complaint. The panel records a definition of malice as “the desire to inflict injury, harm, or suffering on another, either because of a hostile impulse or out of deep-seated meanness”. Synonyms for malice are “mean”, “spiteful” and “cruel”.

 

These were the panel’s considerations:

·         Drum listened to one-sided stories provided to them by an anonymous source without properly questioning the motives of this source (if it did, the story did not make this clear);

·         The magazine hyped-up the story as it:

o   made up quotes when they knew she did not want to comment;

o   overstated things (such as being a drug addict and a cheat); and

o   possessed and published confidential medical records – allegedly belonging to her – without her permission.

Clearly, Drum did not exercise enough appropriate editorial judgement in this case.

Secondly, the panel contemplated the possible motives for this state of affairs. Was Drum merely careless, or was it malicious?

The panel contemplated that the following issues may have played a part:

·         Matheba frustrated Drum by refusing to co-operate; and

·         The single anonymous source may well have been motivated by malice – and by relying on this source, Drum may have made itself party to it.

We are cognisant of the fact that we cannot judge the motives of a source if we are not even sure who this source was. However, we did note earlier that the story itself reported that Matheba had been locked in a bitter dispute with Euphonik and that her former partner had threatened that the issue was going to get ugly. This should have put Drum on high alert.

Taken as a whole, the panel believes that the tone and content of the story suggested a degree of satisfaction in humiliating her. However, after much debate we concluded that although Drum’s reportage bordered on malice, we did not have sufficient evidence to find for Matheba.

The rest of the complaint

Letter wrongly attributed

Matheba complains that the story incorrectly attributed parts of Khoza’s letter to Majola.

The editor (correctly) admitted to this.

While the panel cannot condone the wrong attribution, we also note that Drum has already apologised for this to Khoza. At the hearing Drum said that Khoza accepted its apology – a statement that the latter did

 not dispute.

No attempt to contact

Matheba complains that Drum made no attempt to contact her. She also says that the publication of the file picture demonstrated the fact that they did not afford her an opportunity to deal with the allegations.

The publication claimed to have tried unsuccessfully to contact Matheba on numerous occasions in the weeks leading up to the publication of the story.

It was common cause that Drum had been in contact with her attorney for some weeks prior to publication. Drum also furnished the panel with telephonic records which show that the magazine did phone Majola on June 14, 27 (twice), July 3, 4 (twice), 5 and 11 – all of which were prior to the deadline. The shortest of these calls lasted for 10 minutes and 37 seconds; the longest was 16 minutes and 17 seconds.

Drum cannot be held responsible for the failure of her representative to notify her of the allegations and to seek her response.

A disturbing factor, however, was that the editor of Drum said that she e-mailed the story and the cover page to Khoza for his approval before publishing them and attested that he did not register an objection to the text, headlines and captions. She argued that the lack of any objection demonstrated that Matheba had the opportunity to respond to the allegations, and it further demonstrated that she in fact thought that Khoza had agreed to the content of the story.

However, in later correspondence – as well as in the hearing – it became clear that Drum did not send a copy of the story to Matheba’s attorney for his approval or comment, but only as a courtesy after deadline. The panel finds it disconcerting that the magazine provided the office of the Ombudsman with incorrect information in this regard.

The panel concludes that this was evidence enough to believe that Drum did adequately and timeously try to contact Matheba’s official spokesperson. Materially, they were told that she would not comment and would interdict them if they published the allegations against her.

File picture

Matheba complains that Drum used a file picture of her.

Drum counters that it had been unable to obtain a fresh photograph of Matheba.

At the hearing, the editor added that Khoza agreed that Matheba would pose for a photograph “telling her side of the story”, and that Matheba never honoured the appointments set up to photograph her.

It is common journalistic practice to use a file picture of a person like Matheba who is in the public eye. Drum was entitled to publish her picture to illustrate its report.

Headline, caption

The headline read: “It’s a war – As the fight between Bonang and Euphonik heats up and gets dirtier, the truth seems hard to find”. The captions that go with the two pictures said: “Euphonik looking rather sombre outside court just before his assault case was postponed until 24 July”, and: “Bonang was also at court with her lawyers on the day the case was to be heard. She seemed pretty anxious to have the matter concluded.”

Matheba complained that neither the headline nor the caption reasonably reflected the story. However, she did not motivate this grievance.

Art. 11.1 of the Press Code states: “Headlines and captions to pictures shall give a reasonable reflection of the contents of the report or picture in question.”

The panel could not find anything wrong with either the headline or the captions, as they accurately reflect the content of the story. Also, Matheba did not complain about the issues addressed in these texts.

FINDING

Main complaint

No public interest; bad taste; dignity and reputation

The mere fact that Drum published sensational material about Matheba was not in breach of the Press Code. This part of the complaint is

dismissed.

Medical records

The panel considers the publication of what was said to be Matheba’s medical record an invasion of her privacy as well as a severe affront to her dignity and reputation.

This is in breach of the following clauses of the Press Code:

·         Art. 4.1: “The press shall exercise exceptional care and consideration in matters involving the private lives and concerns of individuals, bearing in mind that any right to privacy may be overridden only by a legitimate public interest”; and

·         Art.5: “The press shall exercise exceptional care and consideration in matters involving dignity and reputation, bearing in mind that any right to privacy may be overridden only by a legitimate public interest”.

The mere possession of her medical records is in breach of Art. 2.1 of the Press Code that says: “News should be obtained legally…unless public interest dictates otherwise”.

Based on our research of the law – including the Declaration of Human Rights in South Africa’s Constitution, and the two Acts referred to above, as well as Judge Jajbhay’s verdict in the Msimang case, we cannot but find that the possession and publication of Matheba’s medical records were unlawful.

The panel states for the record that this view is diametrically opposed to the legal advice that Drum claims to have received.

No verification

The allegations and assumptions in the story that Matheba was apparently a drug addict, that she featured on a sex tape, and that she was apparently a cheat were based on one anonymous source only, were not independently verified or corroborated, and the lack of verification was not reported.

The panel also finds that the use of the words “apparently” and “allegations” were not strong enough to warrant the publication thereof, and that that had caused her unnecessary harm.

This is in breach of:

·         Art. 1.3: “…Where a report is not based on facts or is founded on…rumour or supposition (read: guesswork, assumptions), it shall be presented in such manner as to indicate this clearly”;

·         Art. 1.4 of the Press Code that states: “Where there is reason to doubt the accuracy of a report and it is practicable to verify the accuracy thereof, it shall be verified. Where it has not been practicable to verify the accuracy of a report, this shall be mentioned in such report”; and

·         Art. 12.2 that says that “care should be taken to corroborate” information obtained from anonymous sources”.

Cover-lines

Drum quoted Khoza’s and Majola’s responses out of context, as these were not meant for publication. The magazine also never interviewed Matheba and had no right to make up the quotes attributed to her.

This is in breach of Art. 1.2 of the Press Code that states: “News shall be presented in context and in a balanced manner, without any intentional or negligent departure from the facts whether by distortion…or misrepresentation…”

As the first two cover-lines misleadingly attributed the words to Matheba, they indeed did not reasonably reflect the content of the story. Although Art. 11.1 of the Code only mentions headlines and captions (and not cover-lines), the spirit of the Code will include cover-lines.

This is in breach of Art. 11.1 that says: “Headlines and captions to pictures shall give a reasonable reflection of the contents of the report or picture in question.”

Malicious

This part of the complaint is dismissed.

The rest of the complaint

Letter wrongly attributed

While the panel cannot condone the wrong attribution of a comment, we note that this matter was settled between the two parties prior to the hearing. As it would not serve any purpose to take the matter any further, the panel did not come to any decision in this regard.

No attempt to contact

This part of the complaint is dismissed.

File picture

This part of the complaint is dismissed.

Headline, caption

This part of the complaint is dismissed.

SANCTION

Drum is directed to apologise to Matheba for:

·         publishing medical records that it said were hers without her consent;

·         publishing unfounded allegations that she apparently was a drug addict, that she featured on a sex tape, and that she was apparently a cheat without  independently verifying or corroborating this information – the publication of which caused her unnecessary harm;

·         not reporting that we did not independently verify or corroborate the allegations;

·         making up quotes and/or ascribing words to her in the cover-lines that both her attorney and her spokesperson did not mean for publication and that were never uttered by her; and

·         uncritically accepting and publishing allegations from an anonymous sources without exercising reasonable care in questioning the source’s motives.

The magazine is directed to publish the following on the front page:

·         Drum apologises to Bonang Matheba

o   We never spoke to her

o   We made up quotes

o   We broke the law

o   We caused her unnecessary harm

– Page X

Drum is directed to publish inside the magazine the same picture at the same size that was used for the story in dispute, together with the following text:

Beginning of text:

Drum apologises to Ms Bonang Matheba for unlawfully possessing and publishing medical records that we said belonged to her without her consent, and for causing her unnecessary harm.

Matheba lodged a complaint with the office of the Press Ombudsman about a cover story on 19 July 2012 and headlined IT’S A WAR – As the fight between Bonang and Euphonik heats up and gets dirtier, the truth seems hard to find. The story was about a bitter dispute between Matheba, who has laid a charge of assault against another celebrity, Themba Nkosi (Euphonik). The article dealt with a number of rumours and allegations against her.

The Deputy Press Ombudsman, Johan Retief, who heard the complaint with two members of the Press Appeals Panel, Peter Mann and Brian Gibson, also ruled that our report breached the South African Press Code.

The panel said that it considered the publication of what we alleged to be Matheba’s medical records “an invasion of her privacy as well as a severe affront to her dignity and reputation”.

The panel also directed us to apologise to Matheba for:

·         publishing unproven allegations that she was a drug addict, that she featured on a sex tape, and that she was a cheat – without independently verifying or corroborating this information. It said the publication of these allegations caused her unnecessary harm;

·         not reporting that we did not independently verify or corroborate these allegations;

·         making up quotes and/or ascribing words to her in the cover-lines that both her attorney and her spokesperson did not mean for publication and that were never uttered by her; and

·         uncritically accepting and publishing allegations from an anonymous sources without exercising reasonable care in questioning the source’s motives.

We hereby unreservedly apologise to Matheba.

The panel found that our story bordered on being malicious.

Other parts of the complaint that the panel dismissed were that we did not try to contact her and that we used of a file picture of her.

Visit www.presscouncil.org.za for the full finding.

End of text

APPEAL

Please note that our Complaints Procedures lay down that within seven days of receipt of this decision, either party may apply for leave to appeal to the Chairperson of the SA Press Appeals Panel, Judge Ralph Zulman, fully setting out the grounds of appeal. He can be contacted at Khanyim@ombudsman.org.za.

Brian Gibson

Peter Mann

Johan Retief