City Press editor Ferial Haffajee says her reporter, Piet Rampedi, has been subject to a general campaign of defamation by the ANC Youth League and its leader Julius Malema. This follows a media statement by the ANCYL (published here on Politicsweb) calling on City Press to take action against the journalist, following a judgement by the press ombudsman.
Original complaint about five stories
The original complaint, filed with the ombudsman by Phuti Mosomane, the spokesperson of Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale, complained about five stories published at various times in the City Press.
The stories in question, “Pravin guns for fat cats – Limpopo first target in fat-cat fight” (14 February 2010), “Cadres – Finance minister orders investigation into corruption” (14 February 2010), Malema’s “R140 tender riches – Nationalisation’s frontman is a big entrepreneur” (21 February 2010), “Juju’s dodgy R27m bridges” (28 February 2010) and “Revelling and rallying mix at Juju’s big bash” (7 February 2010), related to allegations of corruption within the Limpopo provincial government and Malema’s business interests in the province.
The case was heard in September 2010 and taken on appeal by City Press. The appeal has since been dismissed.
Found against one of five complaints in first story
On the first story, reporting on a probe into multimillion-rand tender processes in Limpopo which are “likely to suck in a number of top ANC and government officials doing business with the state,” the ombudsman found against City Press in one of the five complaints lodged against the story.
The story, the ombudsman says, makes a national investigation (all nine provinces received a letter from the Treasury announcing investigation of malpractices) into corruption look like a local one focused on Limpopo. At the same time, it dismissed complaints that suggestions in the story – that the premier might be at the centre of the investigation or that the probe may extend to the Premiers cadres and friends – were unfair.
According to Haffajee, City Press was only aware of the one letter at the time of publication, and a call by her personally to the Treasury to ascertain whether other provinces had received similar letters, was dodged by officials unwilling to reveal the graft-busting theme of the upcoming budget speech. Haffajee says she has apologised to the premier of Limpopo if he felt singled out by the paper’s reporting.
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