Mario Wanza vs Cape Times

Ruling by the Deputy Press Ombudsman
 
May 20, 2012

This ruling is based on the written submissions of Mr Mario Wanza, who says he represents nine United Democratic Front members, and the Cape Times newspaper.


Complaint

Mr Mario Wanza complains about a story in the Cape Times on 24 February 2012, headlined Chaos at Zuma speech.

He complains that the story mistakenly says or implies that a UDF group was heckling at a meeting which Pres Jabob Zuma was addressing.

 
Analysis
 

The story, written by Xolani Koyana, describes what took place at the Zuma meeting. It says that a section of the crowd jeered him while he was speaking. The disenchanted group were reportedly in the vicinity of or next to a UDF banner.

The part of the sentence to which Mr Wanza objects is: “…a small section of the crowd carrying a United Democratic Front banner began jeering”. 

He says that the UDF members were respectful and silent throughout the proceedings and complains that the report conveyed an untrue picture of the UDF members.

The Cape Times says: “Our reporter…is sure that some of the jeering and heckling came from a crowd carrying a UDF banner, as the photographs attached suggest.”

The newspaper offers to meet Wanza to discuss the matter and/or to publish a letter by him – which he refuses to do.

No information is available to question the accuracy of the report, save for Wanza’s denial, which is insufficient to be of assistance in challenging the accuracy of a report.

Wanza’s refusal to accept the offer is regrettable as it would have given him the opportunity to have his say and to challenge the reporter’s version.

I therefore conclude that I have no reason to find that the story is not substantially correct.

 
Finding
 
The complaint is dismissed.
 
Appeal

The Complaints Procedure permits a party to apply for leave to appeal against a decision of the Press Ombudsman. An application for leave to appeal, fully setting out the grounds, may be made to the Chairperson of the South African Press Appeals Panel, Judge Ralph Zulman. He may be contacted at Khanyim@ombudsman.org.za.

 
Johan Retief
Deputy Press Ombudsman