Appeal Hearing Ruling – Hlaudi Motsoeneng vs Sunday Independent

Decision: Application for leave to appeal

Applicant: Hlaudi Motsoeneng

Respondent: Sunday Independent

Reason for the Appeal hearing:

Mr Motsoeneng’s appeal related to two articles and an editorial published in The Sunday Independent on 29 January and 5 February 2012, and which were respectively headlined:

Ø SABC boss furore – Zuma man set for top SABC post, and he has no matric certificate ( published on the front page, January 29);

Ø Furore at SABC over COO appointment Critics say chairperson is pushing Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who is not qualified, into the COO position despite a court interdict (page 5, February 5); and

Ø Ngubane’s leadership deserves likes of Motsoeneng (editorial,page 16, February 5).

 The finding of the Deputy Press Ombudsman, Mr Johan Retief:

 

Deputy Press Ombudsman Retief found:

  1. That the Sunday Independent was justified in saying that Mr Motsoeneng had lied about having a matric certificate.
  2. That the Sunday Independent was justified in saying that Mr Motsoeneng had later been sacked because he had lied about having a matric certificate.
  3. That the Sunday Independent was justified in saying that Mr Motsoeneng had
    been promoted three times in a year – even if he had been promoted to acting positions.

He dismissed Mr Motsoeneng’s complaint that the Sunday Independent had “put words into the mouth of the acting Group CEO of the SABC, Ms Lulama Mokhobo.

He found the editorial, Ngubane’s leadership deserves likes of Motsoeneng, to be justifiable comment – although it contained  allegations (complained about by Mr Motsoeneng) that he:

Ø was a dodgy employee who had lied about his qualifications;

Ø was fired because he had lied about his matric qualification; and

Ø twice tried to pass matric.

However, Retief found against the newspaper for:

  1. Saying that Mr Motsoeneng  gained his position as a result of political patronage, that he is a “top supporter” of President Jacob Zuma and that he is essentially an ANC deployee at the SABC, and that the Communication Workers Union had claimed that Mr Motsoeneng  used Zuma’s name to “terrorise” them.Retief said: “In the absence of proof and the lack of attribution, I cannot accept that the statement(s) in question (are) accurate. (They are) not fair to Motsoeneng as (they) cast(s) a shadow of doubt over his integrity – and (have) the potential to cause him unnecessary harm”.This is in breach of Art. 1.1 of the Press Code that states: “The press shall be obliged to report news truthfully, accurately and fairly.”
  2. Saying that Mr Motsoeneng’s appointment as Acting Chief Operating Officer of the SABC had “Plunged workers into panic”.“The use of the phrase ‘the move has plunged workers…into panic’ is an exaggeration and in breach of Art. 1.2 of the Press Code that states: ‘News shall be presented in context and in a balanced manner, without any intentional or negligent departure from the facts whether by…exaggeration…’
  3. Using the incorrect picture.

“The use of Justice Ndaba’s picture instead of Motsoeneng’s was inaccurate and in breach of Art. 1.1 of the Press Code that says: ‘The press shall be obliged to report news…accurately…’, Retief held.

  1. Saying Mr Motsoeneng had attended SABC board meetings without authorisation.

“The statement of fact that Motsoeneng attended board meetings as the general manager ‘despite not being authorized to do so’ is inaccurate.
This is in breach of Art. 1.1 of the Press Code that states: “The press shall be obliged to report news truthfully, accurately and fairly.”

The Sanctions imposed by the Deputy Press Ombudsman:

Retief imposed the following sanctions on the Sunday Independent:

  1. The Sunday Independent was directed to apologise to Mr Motsoeneng for:

Ø calling him an ANC deployee (implying that his position resulted from political connections and potentially causing him unnecessary harm by casting a shadow over his integrity); and

Ø using Justice Ndaba’s picture instead of his.

  1. The newspaper was also reprimanded for:

Ø exaggerating the effect of Mr Motsoeneng’s appointment in that it has reportedly plunged SABC workers “into panic”; and

Ø inaccurately stating that Mr Motsoeneng attended board meetings as the general manager “despite not being authorized to do so”.

  1. The publication was directed to publish a written text on its front page (as it most serious offence also occurred on the front page) on either April 29 or May 6 — if there was no appeal.

The grounds for Appeal:

Mr Motsoeneng appealed the finding of the Deputy Press Ombudsman on two major issues, viz:

  1. That he was incorrect in reaching his finding that Mr Motsoeneng had lied about having a matric certificate; and
  2. That he was incorrect in reaching his finding that Mr Motsoeneng was sacked for allegedly forging his matric certificate.

The Sunday Independent lodged its own appeal against Retief’s finding that:

1.      It was a breach of the Press Code to report without attributing the claim to sources that Mr Motsoeneng was an ANC deployee at the SABC; and

2.      His finding that it was a breach of the Press Code to have published a picture of another person, saying it was Mr Motsoeneng.
The Sunday Independent held that they had, prior to the hearing, acknowledged their mistake and published a correction and an apology to Mr Motsoeneng.

The Hearing:

The Sunday Independent conceded that they had incorrectly said that Mr Motsoeneng had been sacked from the SABC for allegedly lying about possessing a matric certificate.

They accepted evidence by Mr Motsoeneng’s attorney that while Mr Motsoeneng had been dismissed and later reinstated to the SABC in 2006/7; allegations that he had lied about possessing a matric certificate did not form part of the charges against him.

Therefore, they further conceded that the editorial,  Ngubane’s leadership deserves likes of Motsoeneng, published on page 16 of the newspaper on 5 February 2012; which relied on this wrong information, was incorrect and that they would apologise to Mr Motsoeneng for the editorial.

However, the Sunday Independent held that they were justified in reporting that Mr Motsoeneng had lied about having a matric certificate.

The Sunday Independent referred to Mr Motsoeneng’s  Application for Employment form completed by him when he applied for employment at the SABC in Bloemfontein during 1995.

This form requires the applicant to state, in writing, the highest standard passed, and the year in which it was passed.

Mr Motsoeneng wrote “10” signifying matric and “1991” signifying that he had passed matric in that year. He listed five subjects as his major subjects and provided symbols next to each, viz; English — E, South Sotho – E, Afrikaans – E, Bibs – E; and History – F.

The form is annotated anonymously, but it emerged in evidence by both parties that is was by a Ms Mari Swanepoel, then Human Resources Administrator for the SABC in Bloemfontein;  with the words “Outstanding Matric certificate 3/95”.

The Sunday Independent held that this was evidence that Mr Motsoeneng had lied about having a matric certificate.

Mr Motsoeneng’s attorney contested this – saying it was common knowledge in the SABC that Mr Motsoeneng did not have a matric certificate.

The parties further made submissions about the materiality/importance of whether Mr Motsoeneng had a matric or whether he had lied about this fact.

His attorney held that he had not lied, and that his lack of a matric certificate was not material as he should be judged on his experience in the SABC since 1995 and the quality of the work he had done and was doing.

The Sunday Independent held that his lying about having a matric was a material fact which spoke to his integrity and to his qualification for a job that required a minimum of an undergraduate qualification.

Events subsequent to the Hearing of the Press Appeals Panel:

On 27 June – 6 days after the Appeal Panel hearing – the Press Appeals Panel received what amounted to new or amplified submissions  from the SABC Group Executive: Human Capital Services, Thabiso Lesala.

The pack of documents contained:

Ø a covering letter from Lesala, dated 27 June 2012, which claimed that:

o    the Application for Employment form presented to the Press Appeals Panel was not found in Mr Motsoeneng’s personal file at the SABC;

o   the SABC “has never indicated or insinuated in the past that Mr Motsoeneng has misled the company”; and

o   “during the disciplinary hearing of Mr Motsoeneng… the chairperson… clearly stated that despite not have (sic) the qualifications…the employee has considerable talent.

Ø supporting documents which included:

o   a letter to Lesala, dated 22 June 2012, from Mohlolo Lephaka, which describes the circumstances under which he, in 2003, “removed the Application for Employment form from the (Motsoeneng) file because it gave the impression that Mr Motsoeneng passed Std 10”;

o   a response to his letter from Lesala dated 22 June 2012;

o   a letter dated 30 April 2012 from a Pulapula Mothibi, Station Manager: Lesdedi FM; which reads in part: “During the consultations with the News Department regarding Mr Motsoeneng’s appointment, it was clear to everyone that he had no Matriculation certificate. His appointment was endorsed by us, I being part of the decision, that the matriculation certificate was not an issue. Mr Alwyn Klopper (sic) spoke to me about Mr Motsoeneng not having a matric certificate then, and that we were awaiting his results. We agreed that we needed Mr Motsoeneng more than anything”;

o   an undated first page of an arbitration agreement between the SABC and Mr Motsoeneng;

o   six certificates of various types showing that Mr Motsoeneng:

§ passed a course in radio journalism in 1995;

§ completed a National Certificate in Generic Management NQF level 5 (which certificate is undated);

§ completed the SABC Leadership Development programme in 2003;

§ achieved a satisfactory level of competence in The Analysis of Contemporary Social Issues course at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2005;

§ was acknowledged as a positive role model by the Free State Youth Commission in 2003; and

§ that he was given a Special Recognition Certificate by the QwaQwa Campus of the University of the North and the QwaQwa community for his achievements as a journalist and for being a role model and a source of motivation to the community.

o   A letter dated 10 February 2012 from Lesala to Mr Motsoeneng which says, in part: “Please be advised that according to the files and records checked in the past, there was no document or evidence that you forged your matric certificate. Correspondence between the SABC and  yourself indicate (sic) that you did mention that the symbols had to be verified”.
It adds that the SABC has “perused” Mr Motsoeneng’s files “to verify the latest allegations that you have forged your matric certificate”. It added that the SABC was “satisfied” that he had not “forged any qualifications” and placed on record that “there is no indication that you misled or provided any forged documentation regarding your qualifications”.

This documentation was delivered while the Press Appeals Panel which had heard Mr Motsoeneng’s appeal was busy hearing another matter. The Panel was able to reconvene briefly to discuss the documents submitted.

We first discussed whether the documents added materially to what had been presented in the hearing and, therefore, whether we would have to reconvene the hearing to allow The Sunday Independent access to the documents and the opportunity to rebut them.

We noted that Mr Mohlolo Lephaka, the very man who now says that he removed the Application for Employment form from Mr Motsoeneng’s personal file was present at the hearing; yet counsel for Mr Motsoeneng had not bothered to elicit evidence from him.  This despite Lephaka now saying, correctly,  that this file was the “bone of contention” at the hearing and that he was “surprised” when it was “put forward for discussion” – particularly as it was “the very document I had removed from the personal file of Mr Motsoeneng in 2003”.

We also noted that when this Application for Employment document was before the Appeal Panel Hearing, counsel for Mr Motsoeneng complained that the appellant said had never been shown this document by The Sunday Independent.

Notwithstanding, the above the Press Appeals Panel did not feel it was necessary to re-open the hearing. The additional documents provided reinforce, rather than detract from our finding.

Appeal Panel finding:

Following the admission by The Sunday Independent that they had been incorrect  in their allegation that Mr Motsoeneng had been fired/sacked/dismissed from the SABC for allegedly lying about possessing a matric certificate, and their offer to apologise to him for making that incorrect allegation; the only issue left in contention was whether Mr Motsoeneng had lied about having a matric certificate.

As noted above, The Sunday Independent relied on the Application for Employment form completed by Mr Motsoeneng on which he writes that he has passed Std 10.

Whether Mr Motsoeneng has proved by his subsequent performance at the SABC to be a good employee or not is not material. The Press Appeals Panel has no evidence, reason or standing to judge this fact and we make no finding on his suitability or otherwise for the job he now holds.

Nor is it material that some people in the SABC knew that he did not have a matric. It is common cause that it was known.

There is also no allegation that Mr Motsoeneng “forged” his matric certificate.

Put plainly, the allegation that The Sunday Independent makes is that faced with the knowledge that he needed a matric to be allowed to join the SABC as a full-time staff member, Mr Motsoeneng lied, in writing, when he filled in “10” on the Application for Employment form.

Under questioning by Ms Ethel Manyaka, a member of the Appeals Panel, Mr Motsoeneng himself described how after working as a freelancer for the SABC, a number of attempts were made to appoint him to the full-time staff of the corporation. He described to the panel how the then head/regional editor of the SABC in Bloemfontein would not appoint him because he did not have a matric.

He said that after he had again been refused appointment by the regional editor in Bloemfontein – who told him “I am not going to appoint you because you do not have a matric” — he was asked “by other people” to fill in the application form which he did, and that he was then appointed.

He did not dispute that he had written “10” in the space for highest standard passed, or that he had written the subjects and the symbols, or the date when he claimed to have passed Std 10.

His version is supported by a letter submitted by him as evidence by Mr Alwyn Kloppers, Manager Regional Resources, SABC dated 23 February 2012.  Kloppers describes a conflict between the then Head of Radio, Mr Govin Reddy, and the Regional Editor in Bloemfontein over Reddy’s desire to make the SABC’s newsrooms and political desk more representative.

He describes the refusal by the regional editor to appoint Mr Motsoeneng and how he, Kloppers, had complained to Mr Reddy about this. He told Mr Reddy that he knew Mr Motsoeneng and “I said I would not hesitate to appoint him and that the SABC should encourage him to further his studies”.

He adds: “Motsoeneng was eventually appointed by the SABC in March 1995”.

The Panel is of the view that there is a stark difference between whether the SABC knew that Mr Motsoeneng did not have a matric certificate, and whether he lied about having one. They are different things.

There is no doubt that the SABC knew that he did not have a matric.
There is also no doubt that Mr Motsoeneng lied about having a matric when he wrote on the application form – according to his own version just a short time after having been refused a job because of his lack of a matric – that the highest standard he had passed at school was standard 10. (matric)

He knew that he was lying. He could have chosen to write “9” or “pending results” but he did not.

Evidence offered by his attorney – that the letter from Ms Swanepoel shows that Mr Motsoeneng told the SABC that he did not have a matric; is not correct. All it shows is that he did not produce a matric certificate.

The letter reads that Miss Helena Botes, the then SABC Line Manager of Radio News in Bloemfontein, who appointed Mr Motsoeneng on 01/03/95 was “aware of the fact that Mr Motsoeneng did not hand in his matric certificate”, (our emphasis) and that Ms Swanepoel wrote on the application form ‘outstanding matric certificate March 1995”. (Our emphasis)

Rather than proving that Mr Motsoeneng had told the SABC that he did not have a matric, this letter proves the opposite – that he said he had a matric, but that he did not produce the certificate – i.e. in this context that he lied.

Now we address the new evidence submitted to us after the Appeals Panel Hearing.

We are deeply disturbed by what has been submitted. It seems to be a cynical attempt to cover up an inconvenient truth – to wit that Mr Motsoeneng lied on his 1995 Application for Employment form.

It is extraordinary that Mr Mohlolo Lephaka who, as noted above, was at the hearing but did not give evidence; now admits to removing the Application for Employment form from Mr Motsoeneng’s personal file in 2003 – some eight years after it was competed.

It is even more extraordinary that Lesala, the Group Executive of Human Capital Services would then attempt to rely on the removal of the offending evidence to assert… “no such document was found in the files of Mr Motsoeneng”.

When he wrote this on 27 June, 2012, Lesala was fully aware – because he had been told by Lephaka in writing just five (5) days earlier — that the Application for Employment form did indeed exist and that it had been removed in 2003 “because it gave the impression that Mr Motsoeneng passed Std 10” (our emphasis) – in other words that he had lied.

What makes Lesala’s denial even more puzzling is that he even refers to having received “Lephaka’s enquiry”.

As to the rest of the new documents submitted, they either have no relevance to the issue (e.g. the six certificates) or they attempt to address issues that are not in contention (e.g. the arbitration agreement and the letter from Pulapula Mothibi.)

We now address the letter dated 10 February 2012 from Lesala to Mr Motsoeneng which says, in part: “Please be advised that according to the files and records checked in the past, there was no document or evidence that you forged your matric certificate.  Correspondence between the SABC and yourself indicate (sic) that you did mention that the symbols had to be verified”; and adds that the SABC has “perused” Mr Motsoeneng’s files “to verify the latest allegations that you have forged your matric certificate”.

We note the statement : “ Correspondence between the SABC and yourself indicate (sic) that you did mention that the symbols had to be verified”… We note that no such correspondence was ever presented to us. Further we repeat our view that no one has ever alleged that Mr Motsoeneng “forged” his matric certificate. The allegation is that he lied about having one.

The Appeal Panel finds that Mr Motsoeneng lied, in writing on the Application for Employment form which he completed in 1995 about whether he had passed matric.

This was a thoroughly debated issue amongst the Appeals Panel. One of our members felt very strongly that Mr Motsoeneng was a victim of pressure by the SABC and that he had been “misled” or “pressured” into writing 10 on the Application for Employment form. He was caught in the middle between those in the SABC who did not want to employ him because he did not have a matric, and those who wanted to employ him despite this and who were telling him to fill in the form. One of our members felt that he had then succumbed to this pressure.

Whilst sympathetic to this view the other two members of the Appeals Panel held that whilst, undoubtedly there was pressure on Mr Motsoeneng this was not our concern. Even if he had been “misled” or “pressured” into writing something which was not true, he did so knowingly.

The Panel then deliberated on the issue of whether this is material and whether the pressure that he was under was a mitigating circumstance.

We also considered that this was something that happened a long time ago and that it is claimed that Mr Motsoeneng has been a successful employee despite his lack of a matric – as evidenced by his progression through the ranks of the SABC and as further evidenced by the six certificates we were given after the hearing.

However, Mr Motsoeneng is a public official.
It is not proper for him to have lied about his qualifications – even if he did so in 1995 – and the public has a right to know that a man who is now the Acting Chief Operations Officer of the SABC, does not have a matric and lied about that fact in his application for employment at the SABC in 1995.
Mr Motsoeneng’s purported success in his job since then is not the issue.

The Appeal Panel finds that:

1.      That the Sunday Independent was justified in saying that Mr Motsoeneng had lied about having a matric certificate.

2.      That the Sunday Independent was not justified in saying that Mr Motsoeneng had later been sacked because he had lied about having a matric certificate.

Therefore, we:

1.      Support the finding by the Deputy Press Ombudsman, Mr Johan Retief, that the Sunday Independent was justified in saying that Mr Motsoeneng had lied about having a matric certificate.

2.      Overturn his finding that the Sunday Independent was justified in saying that Mr Motsoeneng was fired/sacked/dismissed for having lied about his matric certificate.

3.      Overturn his finding that the editorial, Ngubane’s leadership deserves likes of Motsoeneng, was justifiable comment – to the extent that it relied on the allegation that he was dismissed for lying about his lack of a matric.

4.      Support his finding that the editorial, Ngubane’s leadership deserves likes of Motsoeneng, was justifiable comment – to the extent that it relied on the other allegation, that he had lied about his qualifications.

5.      Support the other findings by Retief which were not in contention at the hearing. These include his findings that:

Ø The Sunday Independent was justified in saying that Mr Motsoeneng had
been promoted three times in a year – even if he had been promoted to acting positions;

Ø The Sunday Independent had not put words into the mouth of the acting Group CEO of the SABC, Ms Lulama Mokhobo;

Ø That the Sunday Independent breached Article 1.1. and Article 1.2 of the Press Code by:

o   saying that Mr Motsoeneng  gained his position as a result of political patronage, that he is a “top supporter” of President Jacob Zuma and that he is essentially an ANC deployee at the SABC, and that the Communication Workers Union had claimed that Mr Motsoeneng  used Zuma’s name to “terrorise” them;
(We note that the Sunday Independent did not pursue this part of its appeal at the hearing)

o   saying that Mr Motsoeneng’s appointment as Acting Chief Operating Officer of the SABC had “Plunged workers into panic”;

o   using the incorrect picture of Mr Motsoeneng – although we accept that the Sunday Independent corrected this error and apologised for it; and

o   saying Mr Motsoeneng had attended SABC board meetings without authorisation.

6.      We express our dismay at what seems to us a cynical attempt by the SABC to cover up Mr Motsoeneng’s dishonesty by removing the documents from his personal file and by the subsequent statement by the Group Executive: Human Capital Services Mr Thabiso Lesala, that “no such document was found in his files”.

Sanction:

We order that The Sunday Independent in its first available edition after receipt of this ruling, apologise to Mr Motsoeneng on its front page for saying that he was dismissed or sacked from the SABC for lying about his lack of a matric.

We order that the Sunday Independent publish the text outlined below as “Front Page text” with a picture of Mr Motosoeneng, on its front page.
Such text will record that the Sunday Independent was justified in saying that Mr Motsoeneng lied about having passed matric and will express our dismay that the SABC attempted to cover up that fact.

We further order that the front page text, cross refers to the text to be placed on an inside page, outlined below as “Inside Page text” which outlines the rest of the findings for and against the Sunday Independent, made by the Deputy Press Ombudsman and endorsed by the Appeal Panel.

Members of the Press Appeals Panel and representatives of the Parties:

The Panel was chaired by Retired Judge R H Zulman, assisted by two appeal panellists, Ms Ethel Manyaka (public representative) and Mr Peter Mann (press representative).

Mr Motsoeneng attended the appeal and was represented by Mr Michael Murphy of attorneys Edward Nathan Sonnenberg. Also attending for the Appellant were: Ms P

M Green,  Mr P Mothibi, and Mr M Lephaka.

The Sunday Independent was represented by Mr M Monare and Mr M Mofokeng

Front Page text: (to be published with a picture of Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng)

 

The Sunday Independent apologises to the Acting Chief Operating Officer of the SABC, Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng, for reporting that he was dismissed or sacked from the SABC for lying about his lack of a matric.

We also apologise to Mr Motsoeneng for the parts of our editorial calling him a “dodgy employee” who had lied about his qualifications and was fired for doing so; which were based on this incorrect fact.

However, the Press Appeals Panel of the South African Press Council, chaired by retired Judge Ralph Zulman with panellists Ethel Manyaka and Peter Mann, which has ordered us to apologise to Mr Motsoeneng; found that we were justified in reporting that Mr Motsoeneng had lied to the SABC on his 1995 application for employment form, when he wrote that he had passed matric.

The Press Appeals Panel, in an unusual step, expressed its dismay at “an attempt by the SABC to cover up Mr Motsoeneng’s dishonesty by removing the incriminating document from his personal file” and the subsequent statement by the Group Executive: Human Capital Services, Mr Thabiso Lesala, that “no such document was found in his files”.

see Page XX

Inside Page text:

The Sunday Independent apologises to the Acting Chief Operating Officer of the SABC, Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng, for reporting that he was dismissed or sacked from the SABC for lying about his lack of a matric.

We also apologise to Mr Motsoeneng for the parts of our editorial calling him a “dodgy employee” who had lied about his qualifications and was fired for doing so; which were based on this incorrect fact.

However, the Press Appeals Panel of the South African Press Council, chaired by retired Judge Ralph Zulman with panellists Ethel Manyaka and Peter Mann, which has ordered us to apologise to Mr Motsoeneng; found that we were justified in reporting that Mr Motsoeneng had lied to the SABC on his 1995 application for employment form, when he wrote that he had passed matric.

The Press Appeals Panel, in an unusual step, expressed its dismay at “an attempt by the SABC to cover up Mr Motsoeneng’s dishonesty by removing the incriminating document from his personal file” and the subsequent statement by the Group Executive: Human Capital Services, Mr Thabiso Lesala, that “no such document was found in his files”.

Mr Motsoeneng lodged a complaint with the Press Ombudsman about two stories (published on 29 January and 5 February this year) which reported that he was in line for a top SABC post without matric, as well as an editorial which characterized him as a “dodgy employee” who had lied about his qualifications and was fired for doing so.

He appealed the findings of Deputy Press Ombudsman Johan Retief, issued in April 2012, and the appeal was heard by the Chair of the Press Appeal Panel of the Press Council of South Africa, retired Judge Ralph Zulman and two panelists, Ms Ethyl Manyaka, a public representative, and Mr Peter Mann, a Press representative on 21 June 2012.

The Press Appeals Panel also ruled that the editorial, which was premised on the incorrect fact that Mr Motsoeneng had been fired from the SABC for lying about his lack of a matric (he was later reinstated), breached the requirement of the South African Press Code Article 4.3 that comment be “an honest expression of opinion, without malice…” and we order that the Sunday Independent apologise to Mr Motsoeneng for the editorial comment.

The Press Appeals Panel upheld rulings of Deputy Press Ombudsman Retief that:

Ø the Sunday Independent breached Article 1.1 of the South African Press Code  — “News shall be reported truthfully, accurately and fairly” – by reporting that Mr Motosoeneng was an ANC deployee at the SABC and is a “loyal Zuma supporter”. Mr Retief found that whilst this was a commonly held view the newspaper had relied on hearsay.
(The Sunday Independent which had given notice of its intent to appeal this finding did not pursue its appeal.)

Ø the newspaper apologise to Mr Motsoeneng for using somebody else’s picture instead of his;
(We note that the Sunday Independent had corrected this error and apologised before our hearing.)

Ø it was a breach of Article 1.1 of the South African Press Code  — “News shall be reported truthfully, accurately and fairly” – to report  that Mr Motsoeneng’s possible appointment as Chief Operating Officer of the SABC  has reportedly plunged SABC workers “into panic”, and for inaccurately stating that Mr Motsoeneng had attended board meetings  “despite not being authorized to do so”.

The Press Appeals Panel also supported Mr Retief’s findings that Mr Motsoeneng  had lied about having a matric certificate when he applied for a post at a radio station in Bloemfontein; that he was promoted three times in one year (February 2011 to January 2012) albeit to acting positions; and that the journalist had not misquoted or put words into SABC CEO Lulama Mokhobo’s mouth.

Visit www.presscouncil.org.za (rulings, 2012) for the full finding.

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