Appeal Decision: Fazil Cassim vs Sunday Times Extra

Decision: Application for leave to appeal

Applicant: Fazil Cassim

Respondent: Sunday Times Extra

Matter No: 115/2013

Application to for leave to appeal to the Appeals Panel

1.The applicant complained to the Ombudsman about a certain article published by the respondent. The complaints are succinctly set out in the Ruling of the Ombudsman: firstly, that the respondent omitted to publish the applicant’s letter on the topic concerned; secondly, that the headline was misleading and, thirdly, that respondent did not publish the letter of someone, a Muslim, which was also on the same topic.

2. As the Ombudsman has correctly pointed out, there was no obligation on the editor to publish applicant’s letter, or the letter of any other person for that matter who had written on the topic which was under discussion, namely, the clash between the matric dance and the celebration of Ramadan.

3. For the reasons given by the Ombudsman, there has not been any violation of the Press Code. The only thing that needs to be added here is that there seems to be a very fundamental misunderstanding on the part of the applicant as to how the media ought to report on news. For example, if editors were to be obliged to print letters submitted to them, as the applicant suggests, they would be acting mechanically and their role as editors would be diminished. Omission of letters or some letters cannot amount to censorship as contended by the applicant; at least not in the present context. I also do not find anything wrong with the headline; that there was going to be a clash was a known fact. That the name of only one person to be affected was mentioned, could not detract from that reality.

4. For the reasons given above and also those given by the Ombudsman, I do not see any reasonable prospects that the appeal would succeed; the application is therefore refused.

Judge B M Ngoepe, Chairperson of the Appeals Panel,

Dated 20 August 2013.