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The Sowetan newspaper's publishing of prominent pictures of two officers having sex while on duty was not in the public interest, the Press Ombudsman ruled on Monday.
“It need not have reverted to publishing the pictures so prominently and explicitly to get its message across - there was no 'public interest' to do so,” Deputy Press Ombudsman Johan Retief ruled.
He ordered the paper to apologise on both its front and second pages.
“A visual presentation of sexual conduct may not be published, unless a legitimate public interest dictates otherwise.”
The pictures, published on page one and two on August 15. show an officer from correctional services and a policewoman having sex in a hospital.
Retief said the story itself was in the public interest because the people involved were public servants being paid by taxpayers.
The paper breached a number of Press Codes by, among others, not being sensitive to its readers, the couple's families, including their children and children in general.
Shortly after the articles were published, the paper's public editor, Joe Latakgomo, wrote a column admitting it had received a number of complaints.
Retief said Latakgomo responded to readers saying the newspaper could have handled the story differently while still achieving the same effect.
“He says that the pictures could have been blurred, or cropped to minimise exposure of offensive positions. It was not necessary to publish the picture on the front page.
“He calls the front page picture vulgar, indecent and in poor taste and adds that it is pornographic.”
Retief noted that the newspaper apologised on its front page for the publication of the pictures - and yet it still continued to publish the pictures.
“One cannot take such an “apology” seriously,” said Retief.
He ordered the following apology should be published on the front page, above the fold.
It should apologise to its readers, the couple's family and children, and children in general.
The Sowetan was directed to print on its second page that six readers had complained to the Press Ombudsman, details of the story and the gist of the complaints.
Comment from The Sowetan could not be immediately obtained. - Sapa
Policemen should be held accountable for up holding the laws of your country. If they are caught breaking it, the should be held acountable for their actions 10 times more that ordenary citizens. I am glad that the Sowetan had the courage to expose one of their many illicit crimes against the poor and mostly female members of our public. When policemen break the law it should be an automatic death penalty.
they are public servants whom get paid from our taxes we deserve to know the truth they should be removed from thier service they cant fight crime but can have sex whilst on duty pathetic
This is bizarre, what the 2 police staff did was much worse than any paper reporting on it or showing an image of it!
sipho syphfliss, wrote
I would rather see pics like this than a bunch of neandorthals toytoying and going on the rampage in the streets yet again . they are all doing what comes naturally
Does it mean by apologizing you admit guilt and if you admit guilt can you be sued (by the people) you have offended?
I agree with the ruling 100%, it was all about making money. Sowetan was sold out on that day. Just imagine the pain the family members went through and our going through. Yes they we wrong "FRONT PAGE" No No No. Sowetan must be fined cash, say 50% of what they got on the day and the money must be donated to charity.
Big up to the ombudsman, Sowetan is disgusting. We have children in this country who need to be protected. Also, as parents we dont buy this newspaper to see such rubbish.South African must think twice next time they buy Sowetan.
OF COURSE it's in the public interest. It is THE PUBLIC that pay their salaries so YES we should know what they are doing while we are paying them!!
In our culture as an Afirican Soewtan did a blunder, I don't wantr to point fingers but I think the editor over looked the fact that this are human beings. I don't condone what they did but it happens everywere.
@badballie you sound like you from sowetan..imagine if your children were exposed to that????????
Sies man, Sowetan is disgusting plus the judgement by the Ombudsman is just a slap on the wrist as compared to the damage they have caused. There was no need for them to publish that story. The Ombudsman should order them to pay the money they collected on that day to the families affected by this.
Public interest to know what cops are doing when criminals escape !!!
the ruling of course totally overlooks the fact that without the pictures to enforce the message of the police forces fall from grace as a server of justice and upholder of the law. The pictures were in the public's interest in that they allowed the incident to be viewed in perspective and forced the lemmings in society to confront events they would otherwise have glossed over.
hawu comment sowetan could not be immediately obtained , i didn't know yo'll news people pull this trick on each other celebs tot u well neh>
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