Sekunjalo drops charges

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Johannesburg - Sekunjalo Investments has announced that it will drop various charges against journalists at the Sunday Times and Cape Times. Instead the company will pursue matters with the Press Ombudsman.

In a statement on Friday Sekunjalo, which owns Independent Newspapers including IOL and the Cape Times, said it had withdrawn the criminal charges against the Sunday Times, its editor and journalists.

The company had laid criminal charges against the Sunday Times on December 3 following the publication of a provisional Public Protector report into alleged iregularities in the fishing industry.

The company said it had decided to pursue the complaint of the contravention of section 7(2) of the Public Protector Act 23 of 1994 with the Press Ombudsman rather than by way of a criminal complaint.

Sekunjalo said that it believed that the Sunday Times report suggested that it "had obtained improper benefits through gross misconduct, deceit, unlawful acts and outright corruption. The articles in the Sunday Times were unfair, untruthful and inaccurate and hence the Press Council has been requested to adjudicate on these complaints."

The company said it would also be referring its dispute with the Cape Times to the Press Ombudsman.

Sekunjalo had demanded an apology from the editor of the Cape Times, Alide Dasnois and the paper’s environment writer, Melanie Gosling, following a report on the Public Protector's report on the fishing industry. In a letter dated December 7, 2013 Sekunjalo said it would issue summons against the editor and journalist if they failed to apologise for the report.

Sekunjalo said it would now pursue its complaint with the Press Ombudsman.

The company said it would also request the Press Ombudsman to investigate separately the targeted and sustained attack on its integrity by various newspapers over the past two years. - IOL

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