Complainant: Jonathan Cupido
Lodged by: Jonathan Cupido
Article: Teen klops killer shot dead – Gangster, 15, bust for minstrel teen’s murder hunted down in revenge attack. This story was carried on pages 4 and 5 with the headline Distraught mom says son had been in gang since age of 12
Date: 28 May 2013
Respondent: Daily Voice
Mr Jonathan Cupido complains about a front page sub-headline on 25 February 2013, titled Teen klops killer shot dead – Gangster, 15, bust for minstrel teen’s murder hunted down in revenge attack. This story was carried on pages 4 and 5 with the headline Distraught mom says son had been in gang since age of 12.
Cupido, a member of the Kaapse Klopse (a minstrel), complains that the words “revenge attack” in the sub-headline unjustifiably implied that a child was murdered by minstrels, when in fact the story did not say anything of the sort.
The story was about a teenager, Hershon Groenewald (from Kensington, Cape Town), who was shot and killed by two unidentified assailants in public (in a park). According to his mother, Hershon was a member of a gang. He was also a minstrel. Hershon appeared in court at the beginning of the year on a charge of murdering a Klopse rival.
Cupido complains that the word “revenge” was unjustified as it was not substantiated by the story. He argues that the sub-headline implied that the deceased had been killed by minstrels, and states this fact was not contained in the story – which therefore unjustifiably portrayed minstrels as gangsters and murderers.
Daily Voice denies this. It says that all persons involved in Hershon’s killing were apparently members of a gang. The editor argues: “Gang wars, gang attacks and revenge attacks are unfortunately well known phenomena in the Cape Flats gang culture. The readers of the Daily Voice understand this and would have read the article in the context. The killing of Groenewald was a typical revenge killing.”
I note that the story quoted Hershon’s mother, who reportedly stated that:
· she knew her son’s attackers came to take revenge;
· other gangs were always jealous of the gang to which her son belonged; and
· there were about five gangs who were “after him”.
Here are my considerations:
· The use of the words “revenge attack” was in all probability correct – the circumstance surrounding Hershon’s killing pointed to exactly that;
· Both the words “gangster” and “minstrel” appeared in the headline, which made it theoretically possible to connect the phrase “revenge attack” to either word;
· When reading the sub-headline in isolation, the pendulum may sway towards “minstrel”;
· However, the context of the story tends to point the other way;
· The second headline on page 5 referred to gangsters and not to minstrels (Distraught mom says son had been in gang since age of 12); and
· This was substantiated by a further story that also pointed to a gang-related attack.
Therefore, I do not believe that the interpretation of the sub-headline could justifiably have been connected to minstrels – and conclude that the sub-heading was protected by the Press Code.
Please note that I am not finding that Hershon was killed by either minstrels or gangsters – I am merely saying that the newspaper was justified in publishing its sub-headline.
The complaint is dismissed.
Our 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 Adjudication Panel, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, fully setting out the grounds of appeal. He can be contacted at Khanyim@ombudsman.org.za.