Complainant: Luleka Nomnganga
Lodged by: Zuko Tyson
Article: Love Lotto for Luleka
Author of article: Mothombeni
Date: 5 December 2013
Respondent: Sunday Sun
Nomnganga complains about a story, headlined Love Lotto for Luleka, published in Sunday Sun on 20 October 2013.
Tyson says that the story:
- incorrectly stated that she had been seeing three men at the same time, had unprotected sex, and that she had been pregnant; and
- was published despite her denial of these allegations.
The story, written by Mothombeni, reported that sources said that the model and vocalist Luleka Nomnganga (24) was pregnant and that there were three “candidates for fatherhood” – two soccer stars and a musician.
The story quoted some sources who alleged that Nomnganga had been seeing three men at the same time, had unprotected sex, and that she had been pregnant.
She denies all of these allegations.
The reporter replies that one of his sources who was a close friend to Luleka contacted him with the story, after which he arranged a meeting with this source. He says that he then confirmed the information with a second (and also reliable) source, and adds that both these sources “stood their ground on the information they provided”, even after the complaint was lodged at this office.
This office has stated a number of times over the last few years that the publication of empty, unfounded and unjustified allegations is irresponsible and unethical.
On the other hand, the publication of allegations cannot be completely out of bounds.
Therefore, I need to establish if there was enough justification for the newspaper to have published the story.
So, I asked for some kind of proof (justification), after which Mothombeni provided me with statements from two sources, who corroborated the story.
I take into account that the sources were independent enough from each other, that Mothombeni was a public figure, and that the story clearly presented the information as allegations (and not necessarily as fact). While I cannot establish the veracity of the allegations (which is not my task), based on the arguments above I am satisfied that the newspaper had enough justification to publish the allegations as allegations.
I am cognizant of the fact that the first few sentences of the story stated the allegations in dispute as fact – but when read in context, it becomes clear that these statements were attributed to sources and did not necessarily represented facts.
Published despite denial
Nomnganga complains that the newspaper published the story despite her denial of these allegations.
Firstly, it really is up to a newspaper to decide on the merits of publication and not on the subject of a possible story – otherwise, it would be censorship (a ruling that prohibits a story prior to publication which, of course, is out of the question) and not regulation (a finding by this office after publication).
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.