‘Jub Jub’ family vs Drum

Complainant: ‘Jub Jub’ family

Lodged by: ‘Jub Jub’ family

Article: Scandal: Jub Jub’s sex partner revealed

Author of article: Ntombizodwa Makhoba

Date: 3 September 2014

Respondent: Drum

Complaint

The family is complaining about a story published in Drum on 26 June 2014, with a front-page headline reading Scandal: Jub Jub’s sex partner revealed. The story itself was published on pages 8 and 9, headlined Prison loverboy. (The text has been reprinted and circulated on the internet sites Times Live, Zalebs, iafrica and The Juice.)

They complain the story falsely states that, while in prison, Jub Jub:

  • was caught having sex; and
  • enjoyed special privileges (implying that he had not been paying his debt to society, that he was unrepentant and that he was not abiding by the rules).

The family adds that the information was not corroborated and argues that not only have the allegations unnecessarily harmed his reputation and dignity, but they may also impact negatively on his (current) appeal process.

More details about the complaint follow below.

The text

The story, written by Ntombizodwa Makhoba, said that Molemo “Jub Jub” Maaronhanye (who was serving a 25-year sentence for murder, attempted murder, driving under the influence of drugs and racing on a public road) “was caught having sex with a female visitor” at Leeuwkop Prison. Makhoba wrote: “It is rumoured that a tall, light-skinned brunette…was seen sneaking into [the prison]in a prison warder uniform… Later she was caught having sex with Jub Jub.” Makhoba wrote that Jub Jub was transferred to Johannesburg Prison immediately after this incident.

Analysis

             The story                                                           The family

A warder caught Jub Jub giving his “nyatsi” a “correctional service”. He has never had a disciplinary hearing, nor has he been guilty of any misconduct while serving his sentence. As such, no inappropriate sexual activity has been recorded in his file nor was he “caught by a warder in a sexually compromising position”.
A senior prison official said Jub Jub enjoyed a lot of privileges inside the prison. He enjoys the same privileges as all incarcerated prisoners both at Johannesburg Prison and at Leeuwkop Prison. The newspaper failed to indicate what these alleged privileges were. If anything, some of his rights and privileges are affected by his public profile.
A warder claims Jub Jub was supposed to perform at a prison function, but that he vanished before the performance. He was never scheduled to perform at an event for some incarcerated prisoners. He agreed to provide some sponsorship via his company, but strongly declined to provide musical entertainment.
Warder Zodwa Motweni of the Department of Correctional Services was mentioned. According to Correctional Services staff, there is no warder by this name.

Drum denies that the story said Jub Jub faced a disciplinary hearing or action in prison – the story merely stated that he had been moved to another prison. The editor says Drum did ask the prison authorities about the incident as well as the reason for the move, but it was prison policy not to divulge such information.

The magazine adds that:

  • the story was not based on rumour or opinion, but rather on the information given to its journalist by three different and knowledgeable sources; and
  • Jub Jub did enjoy special privileges, as he was initially kept in a single cell (while his co-accused and friend Themba was kept in a communal cell), he was allowed a cellphone and a laptop, he still mixed music on his mini studio equipment, and he was the star performer at a fun day held in March 2013. In addition, all its sources testified that Jub Jub enjoyed special privileges.

My considerations

The two main issues are the statements that Jub Jub had sex in prison, and that he enjoyed other special privileges.

Sex in prison: Having been alerted to the fact that the Department was on the verge of completing its investigation into the alleged incident, I decided to wait for the outcome before making a decision.

After the investigation had been completed, the Department informed me that it would not release the outcome, but it did indicate that it would respond to questions.

So, I asked them:

  • Did Jub Jub have sex in prison;
  • Was he caught having sex in prison; and
  • Was he moved from one prison to another because of the above?

The response to all these questions was “no” – which leads me to accept that the allegation in dispute was false.

The problem, though, is that the article did not report this as an allegation, but as fact. For example, consider the following sentence: “Recently Mzansi was alerted to the fact that [Jub Jub] was caught having sex with a female visitor at [prison]…” (my emphasis).

This observation is also substantiated by the headlines.

Even if Drum did attempt to contact the Department (who refused to comment at the time), and had reason to believe its sources (rightly or wrongly), it was not at liberty to portray this allegation as fact.

I note with appreciation, though, that the story documented the Department’s refusal to respond to Drum’s questions, as required by Sect. 2.5 of the Press Code.

Special privileges: While the article sporadically stated that the statement in dispute was an allegation and ascribed this to a source, the overall impression created is that this accusation was in fact correct. For example: “What [the families of the schoolchildren who were killed and injured as a result of Jub Jub’s reckless driving]never imagined was Jub Jub being allowed the kind of luxuries a free man would have…”

I have also put Drum’s arguments in this regard to the Department (Jub Jub was initially kept in a single cell, he was allowed a cellphone and a laptop, he still mixed music on his mini studio equipment, and he was the star performer at a fun day held in March 2013).

Again, Drum should not have presented this allegation as fact (which it did).

Other issues: The other complaints (that Jub Jub “vanished” before a performance in prison, and the mentioning of Motweni) are not of a material nature.

I therefore conclude that the article unnecessarily tarnished Jub Jub’s reputation and dignity, and that the article has caused him serious and unnecessary harm – which necessitates a proper and prominent sanction.

Finding

Sex in prison; special privileges

Drum is in breach of the following sections of the Press Code:

  • 2.1: “The press shall take care to report news truthfully, accurately and fairly”;
  • 2.3 “Where a report is…founded on opinion, allegation, rumour or supposition, it shall be presented in such manner as to indicate this clearly”; and
  • 4.7: “The press shall exercise care and consideration in matters involving dignity and reputation…” (This clause also makes provision for four exceptions, none of which applies in this case, mainly because of the breach of Section 2.3).

Other issues

There is no finding on these matters.

Sanction

Drum is directed to:

  • apologise to Jub Jub, without any reservations, for inaccurately stating as fact that he had sex while in prison and that he enjoyed special privileges there – and for unnecessarily tarnishing his dignity and reputation in this process;
  • publish on its front page the following words in appropriately big type: “Apology to Jub Jub – we inaccurately reported that he had had sex in prison (page 8/9)”;
  • publish on page 8 or 9 the apology, together with a summary of this finding;
  • publish the text at the top of that page, and include in its headline the words “apology” or “apologises”, and “Jub Jub”;
  • provide this office with the text prior to publication.

If the article in dispute was or is published on Drum’s website, the same apology should be published on that medium, and the original story should be removed from the site.

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 Adjudication 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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