There was “not a shred of evidence” to allegations that Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois was fired, INMSA Executive Chairman Iqbal Surve said on Monday. Danois was offered alternative strategic positions within the group and she was still considering these, he said.
Surve said that following a regional strategic meeting in Cape Town last week a decision had been taken to make a number of changes to the various print Cape Town titles run by the group. “The decision to make changes at the Cape Times is in line with our medium term plans to ensure that Independent is competitive and ensures the sustainability of the business and the security of its employees.”
Surve said that Danois was offered alternative positions that the executive team believed would best suit her. “I have given her time to consider theses options,” he said. “She is a valuable member of our team.”
Surve said that Danois was not the only change made at Independent's Cape titles. Other changes included apointing Chris Whitfield as group executive in charge of launching new regional and national titles, Aneez Sallie was appointed Cape Times deputy editor alongside Gasant Abarder who is now the Cape Times editor.
These changes, he said, were part of the overall process of change and had nothing to do with the publication by the Cape Times of the findings by the Public Protector against a government minister in awarding a tender to one of the companies in the Sekunjalo Group.
A number of media groups on Monday called for answers regarding the changes at the Cape Times. The Cape Town Press Club said that “if Ms Dasnois was in fact fired for her paper's publishing of a story that painted Sekunjalo in a bad light, this is an unabashed attack on journalistic independence.”
On Sunday, the Mail&Guardian reported that Dasnois was informed of her removal on Friday, and that Monday's edition of the newspaper would be edited by Western Cape group editor Chris Whitfield.
In a statement earlier in the day the South African Editor's Forum (Sanef) said: “Sanef condemns any interference with the independence of editors and journalists when carrying out their duties. We call on Sekunjalo Holdings to clarify the issues relating to Dasnois's sudden dismissal without delay and to desist from making threats against the staffers.”
The Cape Town Press Club called on Sekunjalo to reinstate Dasnois immediately with a full apology.
“We note that Sekunjalo has also approached the Press Ombudsman in this regard. This should have been their first port of call, instead of firing Ms Dasnois.”