Prince Buthelezi vs SundayTimes

Dear Prince Buthelezi

Your complaint (via IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe) against columns in the Sunday Times that describe you as “Not Gatsha” refers.

You complain that the use of that term is inappropriate in the context of a democratic South Africa, disrespectful, inaccurate, and that is intentionally used to disparage you.

You specifically refer to the war of the eighties and argue that the use of that term was scratching old wounds, “felt by many, for no good reason”. You add: “…refusing to call me by my name and continually ridiculing me as ‘Not Gatsha’ has nothing to do with criticizing my words or actions. It is simply the expression of a personal vendetta, with sinister motive.”

Sunday Times replies that it never refers to you in those terms when it comes to news reports or to serious features. “We submit that when the name ‘Not Gatsha’ is used in a satirical column, it is used as a form of comment. It certainly pokes fun at Prince Buthelezi’s wish not to be called by his pet name, Gatsha. And while it may draw people’s minds back to the days of intense political conflict between the ANC and the IFP, that is no reason to avoid using it.”

The newspaper further argues that it is protected by the Bill of Rights and by the Press Code.

In The IFP’s response to the newspaper’s reply, van der Merwe argues that Buthelezi is also protected by the Bill of Rights “which affords him the protection against hate speech”.

Hate speech has been defined by Section 16 of the Bill of Rights and, with all due respect, the reference to Buthelezi as “Not Gatsha” does not qualify as such.

I take into account that satirical columns fall into the same category as cartoons – they project a certain part of somebody’s character/history/physique and usually blow that out of proportion. This office cannot suppress the freedom of expression that satire has in order to direct publications not to poke fun at public figures (within limits, of course – which has, to my mind, not transgressed the boundary in this instance).

I therefore dismiss your complaint.

Our Complaints Procedures lay down that within seven 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.

Regards

Johan

 

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