Appeal Decision: Bonginkosi Mabaso vs Ilanga

Decision: Application for leave to appeal

Applicant: Bonginkosi Jacob Mabaso

Respondent: Ilanga

Matter No: 337/2013

Decision: Application for Leave to Appeal to the Appeals Panel

1.Respondent published a story with the headline “Ukhala ezimathonsi odivoswe isinyenyela.”  The story was published on 14 October 2013, and it was about the divorce between complainant, the applicant, and his former wife. The story said that applicant had failed to honour certain promises he had made to his former wife; in particular, that he would pay her R3000.00 per month, and, secondly, to share with her proceeds from the sale of what was the parties’ common house and, thirdly, to pay her part of his pension monies. The former wife was reported as saying that she was paid only R20,000.00 for a house which was allegedly sold for R450,000.00., and the R3,000.00 per month promised also never kept. The story also said that the former wife said she had for several years not been aware that she had been divorced.

2. The applicant’s complaint, dismissed by the Ombudsman in his Ruling of 16 November 2013, was that he had not been given the opportunity by the journalist to present his own version. The journalist insisted that the applicant was given the chance, but that he was not keen to answer questions; instead, he kept on saying that they were free to write what his former wife told them. This would amount to saying he was not interested in engaging the journalist, and that the latter could write whatever he wanted to write. I find the journalist’s version to be consistent with applicant’s attitude, which he twice expressed, that he regarded the issue to be a “private matter” (his own emphasis as well). Also noteworthy is that, although applicant seeks to deny that the ex-wife was paid only R20,000.00 for the house, he does not in his statement say how much she has been paid; instead of telling how much, he says he is not the conveyancer, an obvious fact which in any event does not go anywhere towards answering the query.

3. In his Ruling, the Ombudsman found that the applicant had been given the opportunity to put his own version; he found that the journalist had devoted no less than 10 minutes in trying to speak to the applicant. I agree with the Ombudsman.

4. For the reasons I give in paragraph 2 above, as well as for those given by the Ombudsman, with which I fully agree, I hold that the applicant has no reasonable prospects of success on appeal; the application for leave to appeal to the Appeals Panel is therefore dismissed.

Dated this 31st day of December 2013

Judge B M Ngoepe, Chair, Appeals Panel.