Joyce Molamu vs Sowetan

Complainant: Joyce Molamu

Lodged by: Joyce Molamu

Article: ‘I never loved Fikile’ – Ex speaks on Mbalula

Author of article: Zenoyise Madikwa

Date: 6 December 2011

Respondent: Sowetan

Complaint
Ms Joyce Molamu complains about a story in Sowetan, published on 1 November 2011, and headlined ‘I never loved Fikile’ – Ex speaks on Mbalula.
Molamu complains that the story:
  • incorrectly states that she had said that Mbalula was “just a shag”; and
  • published three statements without any proof or evidence.
Analysis
The story, written by Zenoyise Madikwa, is about an affair between Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula and Molamu, which allegedly has left her pregnant. Madikwa writes that Molamu has said that she never loved Mbalula and that he was “just a shag”.
I shall now look at the merits of the complaint:
‘Just a shag’
The story quotes Molamu as saying that she never loved Mbalula and that he “was just a shag”.
Whilst Molamu agrees that she said she did not love Mbalula, she denies that she ever said that he was “just a shag”.
Sowetan maintains that its reporter quoted Molamu correctly, and adds that Madikwa “who has 10 years of unblemished reporting experience”:
  • had no reason to make up a quote like that; and
  • directly after the telephone conversation with Molamu, approached the news desk and used those very words.
All that I have to go on are the notes that Madikwa says she made during the telephone conversation with Molamu. These notes look legitimate to me and include the words “just a shag”.
Also, it occurs to me that the words in dispute are likely to be uttered by someone who said that she fell pregnant with a man that she admittedly did not love.
Three statements without proof, evidence
Molamu says that the following statements/allegations were published without any proof or evidence:
  • “The 27-year-old Molamu’s ex-boyfriend, who does not want his name to be mentioned, also came forward and told Sowetan that he dated Molamu for more than 14 months”;
  • “This woman has had a lot of boyfriends. She was well taken care of. When we were dating, she used to come to my place with different top-of-the-range cars and stayed at posh places – but the most amazing thing was that she was not working”; and
  • “The ex-boyfriend said he also found out that she was dating cricket star Lonwabo Tsotsobe.”
She adds that the second issue mentioned above defames her as it insinuates that she is a “whore”.
Sowetan maintains that all comments made by its source were properly attributed. The newspaper also says that it approached Molamu for comment – an opportunity that she failed to make use of.
Even a cursory glance at the story proves that the newspaper is correct – all the statements in dispute are indeed properly attributed. I also do not believe that these statements are defamatory of her because they probably do not significantly lower her public image – there are quite a few other stories, also in other publications, which mention affairs with other men.
Finding
The complaint is dismissed in its entirety.
Sanction
There is no sanction.
Appeal
Please note that our Complaints Procedures lay down that within seven days of receipt of this decision, anyone of the parties may apply for leave to appeal to the Chairperson of the SA Press Appeals Panel, Judge Ralph Zulman, fully setting out the grounds of appeal. He can be contacted at Khanyim@ombudsman.org.za.
Johan Retief
Deputy Press Ombudsman

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