Business Day instructed to apologise

Copy of st mug Johan Retief GCIS Deputy press ombudsman Johan Retief. Picture: GCIS

Johannesburg - The press ombudsman has ruled against Business Day and ordered it to apologise for the way it reported on the dismissal of former Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois.

The report also inaccurately stated that Sekunjalo had benefited from a Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries fishing patrol vessel tender worth R800 million.

Independent Media, the publisher of the Cape Times (and IOL), is owned by Sekunjalo.

Business Day published an apology in Monday’s edition after Independent Media had complained about the report written in July by correspondent Paul Vecchiatto.

Press ombudsman Johan Retief in his ruling noted that Business Day conceded that it was factually incorrect to report that an article in the Cape Times on December 6 last year “told how Sekunjalo benefited from an R800m fishing patrol vessel tender that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries had been improperly awarded”.

Independent Media complained that the Cape Times story did not allege that Sekunjalo had benefited from the tender.

“Moreover, the public protector report did not find that our client had benefited from the tender (or participated in unlawful business). On the contrary, it found that once objections were lodged to the tender it was cancelled,” Independent’s legal representative said.

Retief also ruled that Business Day had erred in the same report by “neglecting to state all the reasons why Dasnois had been dismissed”. He “reprimanded” the publication for not verifying the accuracy of the information it had obtained. The article only stated that Dasnois was dismissed “… on the grounds that she let her personal feelings against her employer guide her editorial decisions”.

Independent Media pointed out in its complaint that Dasnois “was found guilty on a number of charges, including misconduct, gross insubordination, dishonesty and incapacity”.

Independent said the statement in dispute was that “only one of the evidentiary findings in support of a conviction on the one charge that Dasnois was guilty of dereliction of duty, gross negligence and gross lack of judgment in failing to lead editorially with the death of Nelson Mandela…”

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