Johannesburg - A newsroom processing mistake, which led to the recycling of a month-old Sapa news report this week on expelled ANCYL leader Julius Malema, had his lieutenant in an angry froth on Wednesday.
Suspended African National Congress Youth League spokesman Floyd Shivambu made accusations of a media plot against the former leader after a story on Malema addressing students in Limpopo was widely published this week.
“Most of these news agencies sourced the story from the SA Press Association (Sapa) and failed to acknowledge that the story they ran is an old story of more than 30 days ago,” he said in a statement.
“It looks like South Africa's media and Sapa are obsessed with President Julius Malema to the extent of resurrecting old news just to make sure that there is something they should write about President Julius Malema.”
Sapa editor Mark van der Velden said the story was indeed an old item which had somehow been recycled into the distribution network, either through technical or human error.
“Yes, it is a bit embarrassing, we should have picked it up, and we regret the confusion it caused. But Mr Shivambu really should rest assured there was no devious motive behind it. We don't have the time or capacity for clumsy pseudo-Machiavellian stunts like that,” he said.
“What is very interesting coming out of this all is how so many other media outlets picked up unquestioningly on the story and used it - probably a reflection of the drought of Malema stories as he seems to have been told to keep quiet these days.”
Shivambu said news should be relevant at all times and accused the media of diverting attention from other stories.
“We just needed to highlight this odd practice and once again expose how unreliable South African media can be,” he said.
“Perhaps it was an attempt to divert the South African public from burning issues that South Africa needs answers on.”
Both stories were on an address Malema gave to the University of Limpopo's SRC, on October 16, to not live lavish lifestyles while in office.
The student leaders should not buy plasma television sets, expensive clothes, or change residences, as that would create the impression they had “sold out”, he had told a capacity crowd at the university's Tiro Hall, on the Turfloop campus. - Sapa