Siphokuhle Dludla vs TimesLive

Complainant: Siphokuhle Dludla

Lodged by: Siphokuhle Dludla

Article: Nkandla is a holy place, says ANC national chairwoman

Date: 11 July 2014

Respondent: TimesLive

Complaint

Dludla is complaining about an article published on TimesLive on 17 April, headlined Nkandla is a holy place, says ANC national chairwoman.

He complains that the headline was misleading.

The story

The story quoted ANC national chairman Baleka Mbete on Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on Nkandla (where Pres Jacob Zuma has his private home).

Analysis

Dludla complains that the headline was misleading as it contradicted Mbete’s actual statement. The story quoted her as saying, “The issue of a man’s kraal or a kraal of a family is a holy space.”

Smuts disagrees, saying that Nkandla is Zuma’s kraal – “therefore it is a holy space”. She adds: “Headlines are an invitation to read a story. While they should not be misleading, they do also carry a degree of licence to interpret or summarise the content of a story. We submit that our headline falls comfortably within the acceptable limits.”

Dludla replies that Nkandla is an area/town/location within which Zuma’s family kraal is situated. “Therefore, to…conclude that Nkandla literally means ‘president Zuma’s Kraal’ shall be deemed to be disenginious (sic), baseless and founded on a deliberate attempt to misinform the public…”

My considerations

Wikipedia has it that Nkandla is a South African place name that may refer to a town in KwaZulu-Natal, the local authority that includes the town and surrounds, and Zuma’s homestead.

I also submit that the public associates Nkandla with the latter, and can therefore not fault the newspaper on this issue.

Lastly, if the headline stated it as fact that Nkandla was a holy place, it would have been a different matter. As it is, though, the heading attributed this statement to a source – which merely reflected what the story reported on this issue.

Sect. 10.1 of the Press Code states: “Headlines…shall give a reasonable reflection of the contents of the report…in question.” This is exactly what the headline did.

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 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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