Denise Zimba vs Sunday Sun

Complainant: Denise Zimba

Lodged by: Denise Zimba

Article: Soap star’s steamy sex shock! – Guards have ‘front-row seats to show in parking lot’

Date: 2 April 2015

Respondent: Johan Vos, deputy editor of the Sunday Sun

Complaint

Generations star Denise Zimba is complaining about a story in Sunday Sun of 8 February 2015, headlined Soap star’s steamy sex shock! – Guards have ‘front-row seats to show in parking lot’.

The report said that Rosebank Mall security guards had allegedly seen Zimba having sex with a Greek tycoon in a parked vehicle at the site.

She complains that the following statements in the report are untrue, injurious and malicious, namely that she:

·        was caught by security guards having sex in a vehicle with a Greek tycoon;

·        was found “busy” with the owner of a restaurant by a security guard;

·        sometimes arrived alone in her vehicle as the restaurant was about to close;

·        begged security guards to take no action in order to protect her reputation; and

·        laughed when asked to comment on the “sex scene”.

Zimba adds that she was not asked to comment on the allegations – the reporter merely wanted to establish whether she knew the businessman. “I was not made aware of the allegations against me, nor was I asked to comment thereon.”

The arguments

Vos says that the/a:

·        story was in the public interest, given Zimba’s public profile;

·        four witnesses corroborated the information;

·        reporter knows who the businessman is;

·        story did not state the allegations as fact;

·        reporter phoned Zimba on February 7 (providing me with a verbatim record of the conversation); and

·        CCTV recording of the alleged event exists (but the person in possession of this alleged video refuses to share it with the reporter).

Zimba replies:

·        the fact that she is a public figure does not constitute “a legitimate public interest”;

·        that the allegations in the story are untrue, while they were presented as fact;

·        that the reporter did not give her an opportunity to respond prior to publication; and

·        she finds it “interesting” that the report did not mention the name of the “other party”.

My considerations

Sunday Sun gave me the name and cell number of the person at the mall who was in control of security at the time of the alleged incident. I am withholding his name, even though the newspaper gave me permission to disclose his identity.

This person confirmed that the video does exist, and that the content of the story in dispute is in fact correct. (He added that he had seen the couple together on numerous occasions.)

Based on the relevant information, as well as on the fact that the story consistently ascribed the allegations to sources and did not state them as fact, and that the verbatim record shows that Zimba was given enough opportunity to respond properly, I conclude that the newspaper was justified in its reporting (stating allegations as allegations).

Finding

The complaint is dismissed.

Appeal

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 Appeals Panel, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, fully setting out the grounds of appeal. He can be contacted at Khanyim@ombudsman.org.za.

Johan Retief

Press Ombudsman

 

 

 

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