Appeal Decision: Andre Appolis vs Daily Sun

Decision: Application for leave to appeal

Applicant: Andre Appolis

Respondent: Daily Sun

Matter No: 07/02/2015


[1]      The applicant, Andre Appolis complained about the picture of an injured child which appeared on the front page of the edition of the Daily Sun (“respondent”) on 2 February 2015, with the heading: “Rubber bullet did this!”  The child had a gaping wound, with blood even onto his clothes.  The applicant argued that publishing such a picture, on the front page, was inconsiderate; it exposed people, including children, to this violent picture.  He contended that the matter could have been handled differently.  He says children frequent outlets where such papers are sold; they do see front pages.

[2]      The respondent answer was that publishing the picture was in the public interest; the boy was caught in the cross-fire between protesters and the police.  The picture was meant to convey to the police that they needed to be careful, and for the parents to ensure that their children were kept safe.

[3]      In his Ruling dated 12 February 2015, the Ombudsman dismissed the complaint.  He took into account the provisions of article 8 of the Press Code (governing publications about children and emphasizing the importance of a child’s interests) and article 9 (which requires due care and responsibility when reporting on violence, brutality and suffering).  He found that the publication of the picture was in the public interest.  While the picture could have harmed the interests of the child, he found that the mother had given permission for the publication.  Accordingly, the complaint was dismissed; hence this application.

[4]      The applicant, in his application, persists with his arguments. He points out to the negative effect of exposure to violent publications.  Also, that the respondent could have conveyed its message on an inside page.  For its part, the respondent again emphasizes the issue of public interest, and that the picture was, sadly, a true reflection of our violent society.

[5]      I have a profound understanding of the applicant’s concern, particularly as the picture was horrible and on the front page which meant that anybody, children included, walking into the store where newspapers were kept, would see the picture, whether they would have wanted to or not.  I am, however, constrained by two considerations: the fact that the matter was of public interest and the fact that the mother had given consent for the picture to come out in the papers.  It is not at all clear whether she understood that the picture would be on the front page; the benefit of doubt should be given to the respondent.

[6]      Given all the above, I hold that the applicant has no reasonable prospects of success before the Appeals Panel, and the application is dismissed.  I apologise for the delay in disposing of this matter. I became aware of the papers very late and take the blame for that.

Dated this 30th day of March 2015.

Judge B M Ngoepe, Chair, Appeal Panel.