Appeal Decision: Waldo de Goede vs Ilanga

Decision: Application for leave to appeal

Applicant: Waldo de Goede

Respondent: Ilanga

Matter No: 215/2013

Application for Leave to Appeal to the Appeal Panel: Decision

1.Applicant applies for leave to appeal the Ruling of the Ombudsman handed down in this matter on 26 July 2013. Appellant’s complaint follows a story published in the respondent newspaper on 18 July 2013 headlined  “Umbhishobhi u khala mgomkahkhe ogimgwe ngumlungu.”

2.I deal with the nature of the complaints as summarized and dealt with by the Ombudsman.

3.Respondent complained that the story, which said that the wife of the applicant, a Bishop, had an affair with a white who was a supervisor at her place of employment, being a government department, was falsely implicating him. He argued in this respect that he was the only white person working at that particular place. The story alleged that he spent weekends at hotels without his family, he complained. The Ombudsman dismissed this complaint on the ground that the story did not mention applicant by name; it merely referred to a white person. Applicant’s argument that he was the only white person does not assist his case, given the vagueness of the description of the person alleged to have had the affair with the Bishop’s wife. This would also dispose of the complaint about spending weekends at hotels without family. The Ombudsman correctly dismissed complaints relating to the promotion of the Bishop’s wife, alleged to have been irregular in that she did not qualify; the Ombudsman was correct to say this kind of complaint could only have been raised by the Bishop’s wife.

4.That the story was not in the public interest. I think it was. A bishop is a senior religious leader; his family life should be exemplary; his wife’s behavior is certainly a matter of public interest. I do not share respondent’s argument regarding the standing of the Bishop and his church; namely, that it is not one of the mainstream churches, and that the Bishop is self-appointed. This argument could be seen as denigrating other people or their institutions.

5.That the information was not obtained fairly and honestly. As the Ombudsman says, this lacks details. Respondent says in response that the unfairness relates to himself. This argument cannot stand given the fact that, as already found, he was not identified as the alleged culprit.

6.That he was not asked for comment. Applicant could not have been asked for comment, given the fact that he was not to be identified. The problem with his argument is that he starts from the premise that everybody knew that the story was about him, which was not the case.

7.For the reasons given above, I hold that there are no reasonable prospects that if leave were to be granted, the appeal would succeed; accordingly, the application is dismissed.

Dated  October 13, 2013

Judge B M Ngoepe, Chair, Appeals Panel.