Retief said that Sunday Times has committed a “Tier 2 offence”, which constituted a serious breach of the South African Code of Ethics and Conduct. He said that newspapers are required by the code to report news truthfully, accurately and fairly.
There has been a loud outcry about fake reporting by a number of newspapers that internet based because they report inaccurately. The ruling by the ombudsman raises serious questions about what should be referred to as fake news.
The article referred to was published by Sunday Times on the 29th of January 2017 and it read:
“The Sunday Times can reveal that the ANC in the North West has asked Luthuli House to add Molefe to the list of ANC members it wants to send to parliament, making him eligible to be sworn in as an MP.
The move comes as Zuma’s supporters lobby the president to fire Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and replace him with Molefe, who resigned as Eskom CEO in November after the public protector’s damning State of Capture report.
A tearful Molefe claimed that he had been visiting a shebeen in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, and not the Guptas, as the report suggested.”
Sunday Times went on to say:
“By sending him to parliament, Zuma’s backers are preparing Molefe for a cabinet position. Insiders say Zuma wants him to be the next finance minister.
Zuma is expected to reshuffle his cabinet to also accommodate outgoing AU Commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who appears to have the president’s backing to replace him as ANC leader later this year.”
The ruling by ombudsman is a huge blow to many media houses that have been running reports about Brian Molefe and Saxonwold shebeen.
When defending himself Molefe said, “My cellphone reflects that I was in Saxonwold 14 times, close to the head of proverbial goats. My cellphone reflects I was in the area… There’s a shebeen there, two streets away from the Gupta[s].”
“If the Sunday Times said Molefe ‘implied that he had visited the Saxonwold shebeen’, or even that he had ‘hinted that he might have gone to the place’, I might have decided that the reportage was justified.
“What was reported, though, was that Molefe “claimed” that he had been visiting a shebeen – which he never did,” said Retief.