Dr Ingrid Tufvesson vs. Sunday Times, TimesLive

Tue, Mar 13, 2018

Ruling by the Press Ombud

13 March 2018

This ruling is based on the written submissions of Dr Ingrid Tufvesson as well as those of her attorney, Mr Chixx Matsie, and those of Susan Smuts, managing editor of the Sunday Times newspaper. An informal meeting was also held with Matsie and Smuts on 5 March 2018 in Johannesburg to clarify certain matters. The reporter was not present, but he responded telephonically to questions put to him while the meeting was underway.                                 

Tufvesson is complaining about a front-page story in Sunday Times of 15 October 2017, headlined Minister’s lover in Eskom oil coup – Utility’s CEO ‘boasts of immunity thanks to lucrative deal to Brown’s partner’.

A shortened version of this article also appeared on TimesLive, this time headlined Lynne Brown’s longtime lover scored lucrative oil tenders.


Tufvesson complains that the journalist has:

·         deliberately reported untruthfully, inaccurately, unfairly, out of context (details below), and stated some allegations as fact – this specifically relates to her alleged:

o   romantic relationship with the then Minister Lynn Brown; and

o   ownership of E Smart Solutions;

·         omitted material information;

·         expressed latent homophobia and sexism, has invaded her privacy, and has not protected her personal information;

·         not obtained his information honestly and fairly, and has neglected to verify his information; and

·         not supplemented his story once new information became available.

She adds that the:

·         headlines were false;

·         editor, Bongani Siqoko, gave the journalist permission to ignore truth and accuracy and to publish the opposite; and

·         reportage deliberately caused unnecessary harm to her reputation and dignity.

The texts

The articles, both written by Mzilikazi wa Afrika, said that Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown’s longtime lover and a close associate (Tufvesson) had scored lucrative oil tenders from Eskom despite having no expertise in the industry – E Smart Solutions, owned by Tufvesson, and Michelle McMaster, the mother of Brown’s former personal assistant, Kim Davids, reportedly had scored two contracts worth R1.2-million in five months this year.

The journalist reported this information had reinforced concerns that Brown had been protecting former acting CEO Matshela Koko — who in turn tried to buy her favour by channeling the contracts to Tufvesson’s company. Koko reportedly had told friends that Brown would not dare fire him because he had had dirt on her.

The reporter also stated Tufvesson had admitted that E Smart Solutions had no experience in the oil industry.

The arguments

Relationship; E Smart Solutions

Tufvesson complains that the publications in fact elected to report untruthfully, inaccurately and unfairly – saying that wa Afrika “…chose to present matters outside of context and in an imbalanced manner, deliberately, intentionally and negligently departing from the facts…” (my emphasis).

This, she argues, relates to the fact that the story portrayed her as having had a romantic relationship with Brown, even though she had denied that they ever lived under one roof. She also denies that she has ever benefitted from her relationship with Brown, as implied in the story.

She says the journalist was:

·         offered access to her banking accounts;

·         told that all of her business interests were submitted to the Department of Energy in keeping with legal imperative, which he could examine;

·         encouraged to:

o   read the documentation proving her resignation from E Smart Solutions on 13 December 2016;

o   familiarise himself with the:

§  numerous unsuccessful attempts she had made to be given insight into what E Smart Solutions had been involved with and which had given impetus to her resignation (“because such insight was repeatedly and steadfastly denied”); and

§  “parameters” of her resignation in order to understand that she had never been the owner of E Smart Solutions, had never been part of the company’s operational functions, and that formalizing her resignation was not due to her own negligence, but rather to the fact that she had distanced herself from whatever the company “might or might not have been involved” with “since the owner of the company practiced questionable governance processes that I could not and would not be associated with since 13 December 2016”.

With regards to E Smart Solutions, Tufvesson says she openly declared that she did not own and never had owned that company – she says it was the property of McMaster, its founder, who needed someone with her skills and capabilities in order for the company to adequately fulfil its purported mandate and to assist with securing financial backing. She says the company was, to her knowledge, a training and educational entity of empowerment that particularly targeted rural and peri-urban women and communities, located at McMaster’s private home.

Tufvesson adds she categorically denied that she had any knowledge of dealings between E Smart and Eskom.

She says she has resigned from E Smart Solutions on 13 December 2016 as McMaster has refused to:

·         fulfil the company’s mandate upon which she had agreed to become part of the company (she says she has even offered to send wa Afrika the e-mail as proof, which he has ignored);

·         follow King IV governance principles particularly in relation to transparency and accountability hence making me distance myself from E Smart Solutions; and

·         grant her due access to all pertinent accounting and financial documentation relating to the company.

Tufvesson says she and her attorney told wa Afrika that she knew nothing of these deals, that it was the secret practices of the owner of E Smart Solutions that led to her resignation, and that she had not received a single cent of the supposed R1.2-million Eskom oil deal.

She says she asked wa Afrika to send her his contact details via Whatsapp, as well as the documents pertaining to the E Smart Solution deal/s with Eskom which he claimed to have in his possession, and instructed him to speak with her attorney, Mr Thinus Vosloo, in order to verify her responses and their veracity.

She adds that on Friday, October 13, wa Afrika sent her photographs of 16 documents, which in their totality made it clear that:

·         Eskom was uncomfortable with the manner in which McMaster, purportedly acting on behalf of E Smart Solutions, followed the tender process requirements;

·         the only signatory, without motivation from any of the other directors, was McMaster;

·         final arrangements for payments were concluded between McMaster and Ms Sally Masoso at Eskom; and

·         her name, signature and participation were absent in that documentation.

Smuts submits that the story was based on facts, that Tufvesson was given an opportunity to respond, and that her response was adequately reflected in the published story.

She says wa Afrika sent Tufvesson a Legal City search that listed her as one of the directors at the company as at October 2017. She argues, “E Smart Solutions is a CC, and the directors are therefore shareholders. It follows that, at all material times, Dr Tufvesson had a material interest in the company.”

She says she accepts that E Smart Solutions was set up to be an educational entity – however, it is nonetheless a fact that it was awarded two oil tenders from Eskom (which the company, as admitted by Tufvesson, had no experience of).

Smuts adds that both Tufvesson and her lawyer implicitly admitted she had in fact been part of the company, as she said she had been attempting to resign since December 2016. Her lawyer, Vosloo, said she had officially resigned on the Friday ahead of publication.

The legal editor explains that Tufvesson’s reasons for wishing to resign were not directly relevant to the story in question, which concerned E Smart Solutions being awarded contracts by Eskom when Brown was in a relationship with a person with an interest in the company. “The apparent conflict of interest involving public funds is prima facie in the public interest,” she says.

Smuts denies that wa Afrika was offered access to Tufvesson’s bank accounts or any document other than what pertained to her efforts to resign. “Furthermore, even he had been given access, this would not assist her complaint because she does not explain how or why it would alter or explain any of the facts published,” she adds.

She also denies that Tufvesson offered the journalist access to any documentation other than the one in relation to her resignation, asking that she identifies and submits such documents, and explains how they support her complaint. “We also ask for the opportunity to make further submissions once we have had an opportunity to scrutinize the documents,” she adds.

She calls Tufvesson’s complaint regarding the fact that wa Afrika sent her documents on which he sought to rely “baffling” – “It is to his credit that he shared these documents with her as he was under no obligation to do so,” she argues.

Regarding Tufvesson’s assertion that she did not receive a cent from the deal, Smuts replies the stories did not state that she had benefitted.

Omitting material information

Tufvesson complains that wa Afrika did not provide “all the available information” in order for him to be able to make an honest, accurate and balanced judgement in this case.

Latent homophobia, sexism; invasion of privacy; personal information not protected

Tufvesson complains that wa Afrika “repeatedly attempted to whip up whatever latent homophobia and sexism there might be amongst the readership” by repeatedly referring to her as an appendage of some kind to Brown, as though she was not an accomplished person in her own right.

She denies that she and Brown have ever lived under the same roof, and that she has ever been unfairly privileged by such a supposed relationship.

She says she told wa Afrika that Brown was:

·         and always would be, a dearly loved and respected extended member of her family;

·         not involved in advantaging her life as though she had no personal identity “rather than being the capable and skilled person that I am in my own right”; and

·         not associated or involved in anything of the nature that he was proposing.

She says the publications have flagrantly ignored her and her family’s rights to privacy by default, which they could have otherwise disputed had they in fact diligently checked the facts.

She says that the publications repeatedly made claims about Brown and herself as being a same-sex couple – who are regularly singled out for violence and “corrective rape”.

“They also showed no regard for how this kind of disclosure could affect myself, my family members, etc., knowing that we do not have the luxury of body guards, and other personal security services or resources. As such, Sunday Times, TimesLive and wa Afrika cannot claim to have brandished two KhoiSan women, namely, myself and Minister Lynne Brown, without malice…” she submits.

She also wants to know why the journalist was prying into her life, while she was not doing the same with his life.

She concludes that the reportage has made her an easy target for public abuse, and reducing her ability to seek and secure employment to do the work of transformation that she is most passionate about.

Smuts rejects Tufvesson’s accusation that wa Afrika has whipped up “whatever latent homophobia and sexism there might be” by repeatedly referring to her as an appendage of some kind to Brown.

She says it is a fact that they were in a relationship – which presented a conflict of interest in relation to the Eskom contracts. “That conflict would have existed regardless of whether it was a same-sex relationship or heterosexual relationship. In the second place, nowhere was Dr Tufvesson portrayed as a mere appendage to anyone,” she states.

In the meantime, Smuts submits the newspaper was justified in describing the two as lovers since:

·         a number of sources were aware of the relationship (inter alia McMaster, a person who visited Brown and Tufvesson at their home, an informant in Brown’s office, and a businessman);

·          neither Tufvesson nor Brown (who was asked by Mr Floyd Shivambu in Parliament about this alleged relationship) have outright denied that the relationship existed when the contracts were awarded; and

·         previous news reports have identified them as partners, and these reports appear not to have been challenged or corrected.

“This relationship,” she argues, “is the basis for the concern over the awarding of contracts from Eskom.”

Smuts says Tufvesson, in her conversation with wa Afrika, did not deny that she and Brown had not been partners. “We deny that she responded in this way. We reflected the response that she in fact gave in the newspaper,” she says.

Information not obtained information honestly, fairly; failing to verify

Tufvesson argues that, given wa Afrika’s choice to digress from the truth, it would be quizzical to claim that he had honestly and fairly obtained his news. After all, she says, he did not check the documents both she and her attorney had instructed him to do.

She says the journalist sent her two Whatsapp messages and referring to a Matteus, Mr Salem Essa, and Mr Tony Gupta, which she felt was both unethical and presumptuous because it had nothing to do with her. She adds that both Essa and Gupta were total strangers to her (saying saw Matteus on three occasions, but never had never any meaningful exchanges with him).

She adds that wa Afrika’s credibility is “non-existent”, given that he refused to verify his suppositions and information in a rigorous fashion, despite both her and her attorney’s willingness to give him access to documentation to present her side of the story, and despite her sending him the documentation pertaining to the terms of my resignation from E Smart Solutions since 13 December 2016.

Regarding the undue privileges she has allegedly received (namely “lucrative oil tenders” from Eskom), Tufvesson says wa Afrika “was vigorously encouraged to diligently check my financial records as held by my bank, the South African Revenue Services, and the submission of disclosure of all and any economic/financial interests that was made to the Department of Energy in order for him to see, totally transparently what my interests are”.

She says she was even willing for wa Afrika to have a discussion with his Eskom and/or other informants about when, at any stage, she had met with and/or spoken to anyone at Eskom about an oil deal. “He clearly chose to ignore that request and to gain the authorization of Mr Siqoko to print matters without due diligence. Wa Afrika chose to exercise the arrogance of medial power to instead denigrate and defame someone whom he has never even known prior to his misleading telephone call.”

She adds, “I ignored these copied emails, which I was not confident had been ethically obtained, and because they had nothing to do with me.”                                                                                                                   

Smuts says that Tufvesson has never put the documents before her office to which she frequently refers (which wa Afrika has allegedly failed to examine). “She has not put these before your office. The documents we relied on were shared with her. We submit it was fair and reasonable for us to rely on the documents in the way we did,” she submits.

Story not supplemented

Tufvesson complains that the publications have breached Section 1.9 of the Press Code, since despite having access to and knowledge of the correct information being published within hours of its own untrue and inaccurate account, neither wa Afrika, TimesLive nor Sunday Times corrected their errors.

The headlines

Tufvesson complains that the headlines “blatantly” lied and did not reasonably reflect the content of the reports in question.

Editor condoning untrue, inaccurate reporting

Tufvesson complains that the editor gave the journalist permission “to ignore truth and accuracy”, and instead to publish both articles and their manipulated and skewed, untruthful contents.

She adds that, with, Siqoko’s permission, wa Afrika did not even bother to examine Eskom’s payment records to ascertain which banking account the monies went to and who the authorized signatories for that account is – despite her and her attorney’s willingness to give him access to documentation to present her side of the story, and despite her sending the journalist the documentation pertaining to the terms of her resignation from E Smart Solutions since 13 December 2016.

Smuts emphatically rejects the “frivolous, fanciful and unsubstantiated assertions” that the editor gave wa Afrika permission to ignore truth and accuracy and to publish “manipulated and skewed, untruthful contents”.

Deliberately causing harm

Tufvesson complains that wa Africa “chose to be untruthful, deliberately causing defamatory harm to myself, choosing to give his own ill-informed subjective voice dominance, without regard for my children, one of whom is my late sister’s son of 12 years, to whom I am the only surviving caregiver, and/or for my own financial situation, despite both myself and my attorney encouraging him to check the payment trails made by Eskom.”

She says it seems what was behind wa Afrika’s unethical behaviour was an urgency to fabricate fact from bits and pieces as he was way behind schedule, and had no believable case against Brown to peddle.

“He also had no direct and/or indirect evidence of my involvement in deal/s pertaining to E Smart Solutions. Any investigative journalist worth holding such a title would surely have questioned why correspondence between Eskom and E Smart Solutions only directed itself to one director? Furthermore, did he not wonder why, if he was correct to claim that E Smart Solutions was my company, correspondence was not at any time directed at or to me? Instead, wa Afrika fell short of doing his job and chose instead to present the entire story as though it was somehow a criminal case only to fill his newspaper for that weekend, doing so with a badly crafted pen, clearly showing pithy researched tabloid type inserts,” she adds.

Later correspondence

While expressing her gratitude to the publication for supplying a recording of the conversation between her and wa Afrika, Tufvesson says it has been edited, since about two minutes of the conversation are missing. As proof, she says the statement in the story that she has admitted that E Smart Solutions had no experience in the oil industry and that the company was not in the oil business is not in the recording.

She also says that the journalist deliberately omitted to report her denial that:

·         she and Brown were lovers, without any proof (she told him that she and the Minister were just friends, and that they never live together under one roof), adding that the journalist never mentioned to her that McMaster had told him that she had been in a relationship with Brown;

·         she owned E Smart Solutions and has received monies from the company (she told the reporter that her erstwhile attorney had sent a letter of resignation to the owner of E Smart, Ms Michelle McMaster, and that she herself had sent an e-mail of resignation on 13 December 2016 – information which was not reported); she adds that wa Afrika ignored her offer to gain access to her correspondence in this regard, including bank statements, as he was not interested in anything that would hamper his story from being published;

·         she had acquired a contract from Eskom in her own personal company, or benefitted from any Eskom contract – she says no conflict of interest in relation to Eskom was ever proven by anybody; she adds:

o   Smuts’s statement that it is a fact that she and Brown were in a relationship (which allegedly presented a conflict of interest in relation to Eskom contracts) was also unfounded and without any proof; and

o   if McMaster does not submit this allegation in an affidavit, it would remain a malicious rumour from a person who had a falling-out with her.

Tufvesson says she was not offered a right of reply to the following statement: “E Smart Solutions owned by Brown’s partner, Ingrid Tufvesson, and Michelle McMaster, the mother of Brown’s former personal assistant, Kim Davids, scored two contracts worth R1.2-million in just five months this year.”

Even if he had sources, he was supposed to name them. He cannot refer to unidentified persons.

Scant regard for the harm to a private person and her family; and at a time when the family was commemorating the death of her mother.

Contrary to her initial complaint, Tufvesson admits that, according to the recording, wa Afrika did identify himself, as well as the purpose of his call.

I have asked Smuts to reply to the allegation that the publication has edited the recording, specifically pointing out that there seems to be a blip after 3 minutes and 19 seconds in the recording.

Smuts emphatically denies any editing of the tape, saying that the newspaper does not either the capability or the motive to do such a thing, and stating that the accusation is malicious and opportunistic.

She admits there appears to be a blip in the recording, but argues that both before and after the blip, the recording reflects Tufvesson asking wa Afrika to contact her attorney (in other words, the subject of the conversation remains the same). “The most logical explanation is that it was a momentary technical blip,” she submits.

The managing editor adds that:

·         the “interruption” in the tape is not a likely place in the recording for any incriminating conversation that would require editing;

·         the publication was not obliged to share the recording with Tufvesson and could quite simply have refused if we so wished – yet the journalist displayed absolutely no reluctance to pass on the recording when asked and his willingness to share the recording was at stark odds with the conduct that Tufvesson accuses him of; and

·         wa Afrika is a highly successful investigative reporter, who has never attempted to deceive this office, and has always accepted the outcome of the processes of the Press Council.


At and after the meeting, I gave each party an opportunity to respond to questions – the gist of which I have incorporated in my adjudication of the matter below.

The crux of the complaint relates to Tufvesson’s alleged romantic relationship with Brown, and her ownership of E Smart Solutions. I shall address these two matters first.

Romantic relationship

Statement of fact

The question is how justified Sunday Times was to state as fact, rather than an allegation, that Tufvesson and Brown were lovers.

I am always wary of the dangers of crossing the line between allegation and fact, as I have witnessed such mistakes umpteen times – mostly to the detriment of the subjects of such reporting.

In this regard, the newspaper’s argument of an allegation being in the public domain should be handled with care, and cannot on its own justify it being stated as fact. The constant repetition of an untrue allegation in the media, up to such a point that the public starts to believe it to be true, does not by default make it true.

I was therefore looking for more than just the public domain argument – which is exactly what I got. Wa Afrika based his information on more than just “general knowledge” which was in the “public domain” – he inter alia also relied on a source in Brown’s office, as well as on three Eskom officials to whom Tufvesson had been introduced as the former’s lover.

In addition, and tellingly so, Smuts also presented me with a media release by the Board of the Higher Education Transformation Network (of which Tufvesson was a former chairperson), dated 4 August 2017, in which it was categorically stated that Tufvesson’s relationship with Brown was “an open public secret” and that it was “known to us during her term of office”.

Given these considerations, and especially the latter, I am satisfied that the journalist was justified in believing that the statement in dispute was reasonably true, and therefore in reporting it as such.

For the record: At the meeting Smuts wanted a response to the question if Tufvesson has ever been in a romantic relationship with Brown. She responded as follows, “I reiterate that I have had and continue to have a close and caring friendship with Minister Brown.”

I leave this matter there, as it is of no concern to me if such a relationship exists or existed – all I am interested in, is the question how justified the journalist was to state it as fact.

Reflecting Tufvesson’s response?

The next question is if wa Afrika has fairly reflected Tufvesson’s response to his questions regarding this matter.

I therefore listened to the recording with a view to establish exactly:

·         what wa Afrika asked Tufvesson; and

·         how she responded to those questions.

First, the journalist asked Tufvesson, “What is your relationship with the Minister?” He then elaborated on this quite general question, which could have been interpreted in more than one way, by specifying as follows, “People are saying you two guys have got a relationship.”

From the context, and the innuendo, it was clear that this question was about a special kind of a personal relationship (in fact, Tufvesson used the word “personal” immediately after this question).

She inter alia responded, “What do you mean – she’s my friend. Just like anybody is my friend… I really don’t care what people say. What is there to say? She’s my friend… She’s like a member of our family. My whole family knows her, so it’s not as though there is anything to be concerned about… at all…”

This was a specific denial of any kind of “unique” or “special” relationship between her and Brown – “just like anybody”, were her words. Whether that was true or not, is not the issue – what matters, is that she indeed clarified that their relationship was not of a romantic nature (one normally does not have a love relationship with “just…anybody”).

Wa Afrika followed this up with a more specific question, wanting to know if she ever had lived with Brown under one roof.

To this, she replied (laughingly), “Never ever… I think it’s hilarious. It’s clear that you don’t know anything about me, otherwise you would never ask me that question…”

Despite her clarification, wa Afrika reported, “[Tufvesson] refused to clarify her relationship with Brown. ‘She is my friend. I don’t care what people say about me and the minister. My whole family knows about her’.”

Given the evidence from the recorded interview which I have described above, the journalist was not justified to report that Tufvesson had “refused to clarify” her relationship with the Minister. That statement, I assert, was untrue, unfair, and misleading.

Neglecting to give Tufvesson certain information

Tufvesson complains that wa Afrika did not tell her that his information about her alleged relationship with Brown came from McMaster, three Eskom employees, and others.

The journalist replied, “I asked her … a general question because I wanted her to confirm or deny what is already on public domain about their relationship.”

Even if she did not know about this “general knowledge”, as Tufvesson later argues, the journalist still was not required to enlighten her and also, he was not to know that she was not aware of this situation. I also note that she did not ask him where his information came from during the interview.

E Smart Solutions


At the meeting, Smuts argued that Tufvession, as a director of the company (which was a closed corporation), by definition also owned shares in that firm. The managing editor also pointed out that Tufvesson offered someone 30% of shares in the company – which she only could have done if she at least co-owned the firm.

At the meeting, Matsie agreed that Tufvesson had co-owned the company.

I also note that, in correspondence following our meeting, Tufvesson refers to herself as a shareholder of the company (at the time).

Given these facts, it is difficult to understand why Tufvesson complained about this issue in the first place. Granted, it would have been better to state that she co-owned the company – but then again, the story never stated or created the impression that she was the sole owner of E Smart Solutions.

Omitting material information

Tufvesson complains that wa Afrika omitted to report material information. It appears that she refers to her denial that she knew nothing of the Eskom deals which wa Afrika asked her about.

Given the seriousness of the allegation that Tufvesson had “scored lucrative oil tenders from Eskom” (as Brown’s “long-time lover”), I would have expected that the journalist published her denial higher up in the story, and perhaps also more detailed at that. However, her denial was published, as required by the Press Code.

The same does not go for the shortened online version of the article, though.

This text stated there were “lucrative oil tenders from Eskom”, and that Tufvesson (who “owned” E Smart Solutions) had admitted that that company had not been in the oil business – but there was no word of her denial that she had allegedly benefitted from these transactions.

Tufvesson’s denial to this effect was glaringly absent.


Tufvesson’s allegations that the publications in fact elected to report untruthfully, inaccurately and unfairly, and that the reporter chose to cause her unnecessary harm, are extremely serious. Such allegations go to the heart of what is called journalistic integrity, without which the media may just as well close up shop – which makes it all the more important that people who accuse a journalist of the total lack of integrity should have solid grounds for such an allegation.

Granted, the media are indeed sometimes, even often, guilty of reporting inaccurately and unfairly – but in my experience, the instances where this was done deliberately are, to all intents and purposes, non-existent. I cannot recall one singular instance where I have found that a journalist in fact has meant to mislead the public.

I have long since learnt that I should not ascribe malice to journalists where a simple explanation of incompetency would do.

Please note, though, that this is a general comment, and is not intended to say that wa Afrika is incompetent (or, conversely, that he has not purposefully misled the public).

At the meeting, I therefore asked Matsie if Tufvesson understood the seriousness of her allegation, and wondered if she wanted to rethink the matter.

She reiterated her conviction on the grounds that:

·         wa Afrika persisted to make her reply to the question about her relationship with Brown, hoping to receive an affirmative reply – and yet, after she categorically denied that they were lovers, the editor authorized and permitted the journalist to continue to state and infer the exact opposite of her responses in the story, the captions and the headlines;

·         Smuts replied to her question about the editor’s role with regards to publishing personal and private information in a “direct, brief, unobscured” way, with no nuances involved – which led her to conclude that he could have prevented wa Afrika from publishing untruths; and

·         the editor should have realized that any latent or active homophobia would have serious and broad-sweeping consequences for herself and her family, which includes a minor.  

In earlier correspondence, she also refers in this regard to her invitation to wa Afrika to inspect her banking details – which he did not do.

In my adjudication of this complaint, I have already decided that wa Afrika has largely not breached the Press Code with regards to the gist of the complaint (read: the statement that Tufvesson and Brown were lovers, the former’s ownership of E Smart Solutions, and her denial that she had benefitted from the deals – at least, in the published story). It follows that I cannot decide that the reporter has deliberately reported misleadingly, and that he (and the editor) chose to cause her harm – as there was no such misleading reporting in the first place.

Furthermore, Tufvesson’s motivations for her claim are not nearly strong enough to convince me that wa Afrika has intentionally mislead the public.

Homophobia, sexism

The issue itself

In her later response, Tufvesson mentions personal issues regarding the journalist which, I believe, are inappropriate and unworthy of repeating or documenting.

In the meantime, I do not find any trace of homophobia or sexism in his texts – the mere mentioning of a same-sex relationship cannot qualify as homophobia or sexism. It is unthinkable in an open democracy such as ours that a publication has to be censored merely for mentioning this issue.

Invasion of privacy; personal information not protected; putting her life in danger

I do not agree with Tufvesson that the newspaper has ignored her and her family’s rights to privacy – Brown was a Minister, and Tufvesson’s alleged relationship with her, together with the innuendo that the latter might have benefitted financially by that relationship, made the matter of huge public interest.

Public figures enjoy less privacy than ordinary citizens, and in this case public interest outweighed that of the individual. By far.

Again, if this office decides that the reportage has exposed Tufvesson to violence and “corrective rape” merely by mentioning a same-sex relationship, the media should be banned from ever reporting on such relationships. Again, this is inconceivable.

Information not obtained information honestly, fairly; failing to verify

Tufvesson argues that, given wa Afrika’s choice to digress from the truth, it would be quizzical to claim that he had honestly and fairly obtained his news. After all, she says, he did not check the documents both she and her attorney had instructed him to do.

Given my arguments above, which largely exonerates the journalist, it follows that I also do not believe that he had obtained his information in a dishonest and unfair way – and even if he did, I believe he was justified to do so, given the huge public interest in this matter (see Section 1.4 of the Press Code).

I also do not blame the journalist for not checking Tufvesson’s bank records, as it was possible that she had more than one account – which means that, checking one of them, would not have proved anything.

I therefore also dismiss her allegation that wa Afrika’s credibility was “non-existent”. And I do so with conviction.

Story not supplemented

The complaint that the newspaper has not supplemented its story cannot stand, as there was little or nothing to supplement. In any case, the matter was before this office, and a publication normally waits for adjudication before supplementing its article.

The headlines

The headline of the published story read, Minister’s lover in Eskom oil coup – Utility’s CEO ‘boasts of immunity thanks to lucrative deal to Brown’s partner’.

This headline merely reflected the content of the article, of which I have found was not in breach of the Press Code. The same goes for TimesLive’s headline (Lynne Brown’s longtime lover scored lucrative oil tenders).


The journalist inaccurately and unfairly stated that Tufvesson had “refused to clarify” her relationship with Brown. This was in breach of Section 1.1 of the Press Code that states, “The media shall take care to report news truthfully, accurately and fairly.”

The online version omitted to report Tufvesson’s denial that she had benefitted from the said transactions between Eskom and E Smart Solutions, which was a material omission. This was in breach of Section 1.8 of the Code which states, “The media shall seek the views of the subject of critical reportage in advance of publication…”

The rest of the complaint is dismissed.

Seriousness of breaches                                              

Under the headline Hierarchy of sanctions, Section 8 of the Complaints Procedures distinguishes between minor breaches (Tier 1 – minor errors which do not change the thrust of the story), serious breaches (Tier 2), and serious misconduct (Tier 3).                                           

The breaches of the Press Code as indicated above are both Tier 2 offences.


The publications are directed to apologise to Tufvesson regarding the following matters:

·         Sunday Times – for falsely and unfairly stating that she had refused to clarify her relationship with Brown; and

·         TimesLive – for omitting to report her denial that she had benefitted from transactions between Eskom and E Smart Solutions.

Sunday Times is requested to publish the apology on top of page 2 or 3, with a headline containing the words “apology” or “apologises”, and “Tufvesson”; TimesLive is asked to publish the apology on top of the relevant page, also using the words “apology” or “apologises” and “Tufvesson”.

The text should:

·         be published at the earliest opportunity after the time for an application for leave to appeal has lapsed or, in the event of such an application, after that ruling;

·     refer to the complaint that was lodged with this office;

·     end with the sentence, “Visit www.presscouncil.org.za for the full finding”; and

·     be prepared by the publication and be approved by me.


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