Appeal Decision: Lumko Mtimde vs Business Day

Decision: Application for leave to appeal

Applicant: Lumko Mtimde

Respondent: Business Day

Matter No:1047/03/2015


[1]     Mr Lumko Mtimde (“applicant”) lodged a complaint with the office of the Press Ombudsman in connection with an article which appeared in the 24 March 2015 edition of the Business Day (“respondent”).

[2]     The article was about the discussion which took place in the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Communications about people who had been nominated to the position of chair of the South African Broadcasting Corporation.  It turned out that the applicant’s name was dropped because proof of his qualifications had not been received in time.

[3]     The applicant complained that the article was wrong in two main respects.  Firstly, that he was not an applicant, as he did not apply; the process was that people were nominated.  Secondly, he complained that the article created an impression that he failed to submit proof of his qualifications.

[4]     In its submissions, the respondent conceded the above two errors, and said that it had taken steps to correct them.  The correction notwithstanding, the applicant persisted with his complaint because firstly, he felt that the correction was shorter than the original story; secondly, that the correction was not prominent.

[5]     In his Ruling dated 2 April 2015, the Press Ombudsman dismissed the complaint.  As a result the applicant wants leave to appeal the Ruling.

[6]     As the Ombudsman says, the apologies were printed promptly, on page 3, and prominently.  Very importantly, they went to the heart of the matter.  I think applicant was agitated by the fact that allegations of false qualifications were being thrown around, like those against the former Chair of the board of the SABC, Ellen Tshabalala; his agitation was therefore understandable.  But I think the corrections did acquately take care of that.  Very importantly, the article was not focus on the applicant; it was focused on the discussions in the committee.

[7]     In support of his application, applicant argues that the “Press Ombudsman has had no regard on (sic) the impact of the newspapers act on my integrity and character” as also lack of regard to the issue of prominence. For the reasons above, I do not agree.

[8]     For the above reasons, I hold that the applicant has no reasonable prospects of success before the Appeals Panel; the application is therefore dismissed.

Dated this 13th day of May 2015

Judge B M Ngoepe, Chair, Appeals Panel