Joy Kriel vs The Citizen

Complainant: Joy Kriel
Article:MORE BOERE GUILTY.
Date: 15 August 2012
Respondent: The Citizen
Complaint

Ms Joy Kriel complains about a poster by The Citizen on 1 August 2012 which read MORE BOERE GUILTY.

Kriel complains that this leads to violence against innocent farmers.

Analysis

The poster reflected a story about a Boeremag court case in which some of its members were standing trial on charges of treason.

Kriel says that, to her, the word “Boer” designates farmers and argues that posters such as this one results in “violent, hateful, despicable farm murders”. In later correspondence she states that this poster just serves to unnecessarily stir up emotions. She says that she is especially concerned about those living in rural areas as they “are not so up to date with happenings in the world, let alone our own country”.

The Citizen says that the poster came in the context of the number of stories that it had carried about the Boeremag court case – “during which trial the members of the Boeremag were often referred to as ‘Boere’.” It adds that the word “Boeremag” does not fit on a poster and denies that it intended any offence.

Firstly, in normal text the word “boer” refers to a farmer, while “Boer” denotes a person of a certain culture. In this case, however, this distinction is not helpful as the poster was all in capital letters (which is normal practice).

If the Boeremag trial has not been covered widely (both in the press and in the electronic media), the word “BOER” could have been misunderstood for “farmer”. However, this trial is the longest in South African history, and the nature of the trial is such that the average citizen would have understood that the word referred to the Boeremag trial and not to farmers.

This is exactly what sprung to mind when I read the poster.

Kriel’s concern that this may spark off farm murders is therefore unfounded.

Finding
The complaint is dismissed.
Appeal

Please note that our Complaints Procedures lay down that within seven days of receipt of this decision, either party may apply for leave to appeal to the Chairperson of the SA Press Appeals Panel, Judge Ralph Zulman, fully setting out the grounds of appeal. He can be contacted at Khanyim@ombudsman.org.za.

Johan Retief
Deputy Press Ombudsman