Johannesburg - Media24 says it is studying the Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, judgment following the finding that the media outlet is guilty of unlawful reporting on the EFF’s Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, accused of rape.
The EFF said yesterday that it welcomed the judgment which found that reports by the Daily Sun, a Media24 outlet, in both its print and digital media platforms, alleging that Ndlozi was guilty of rape were “unlawful and defamatory”.
The judgment concluded that Media24 must “remove these unlawful and defamatory statements from all its media platforms, including its website, X (fomerly Twitter) account, and Facebook account, within one week of the date of this order”.
In essence, Media24’s Daily Sun unlawfully printed accusations that were false, baseless and caused grave harm to the reputation and person of Ndlozi. Media24 was further directed to “pay the costs of the application to date, including the costs of two counsels”.
Media24 could not use the principle of public interest to defend its defamatory article.
In the judgment, Judge SDJ Wilson stated: “Any public benefit derived from reporting the fact of the complaint against Ndlozi was outweighed by the public interest in keeping the complaint private at the very early stage of the investigation at which it was reported. It follows that (Media24) failed to demonstrate that the impugned statements were published for public benefit. Accordingly, the publication of those statements was defamatory and unlawful.”
EFF national spokesperson Sinawo Thambo said: “This is another of the court’s damning findings that Koos Bekker’s Media24 actually interfered with a police investigation by publishing a rape complaint even before police could put the case to an alleged perpetrator. This is a powerful and unprecedented judgment that actually benefits and protects gener-based violence cases. Thus, it is also a big victory for investigations into GBV-related crimes.”
The judgment adds that “if a rape complainant cannot be confident that their statement will not be promptly leaked to and published by the media, just hours after it is made, they may well decide not to report their assault at all”.
Thambo said many well-known women have elected not to go to the police and report abuse because their affidavits were leaked to the media. Many more have had their cases compromised by such poor journalism.
“This is therefore a big victory for the victims of GBV, the majority of whom are women,” he said.
Thambo said at the time the EFF illustrated clearly that there was no verifiable possibility that Ndlozi was at the location where the incident allegedly took place.
Thambo said the reporters were themselves invited to engage in a responsible journalistic investigation, which awaits and prioritises the police investigation. Yet, for expediency, which has a profit benefit in sales, and because they wanted to harm the EFF’s public standing, they rushed for publication, which was unlawful and defamatory.
“The EFF calls on Media24 to comply with the judgment with immediate effect. We call on them to issue a public apology of the same publication degree as the defamatory statements. We call on them to pay damages and commit to practising responsible journalism.
“This judgment must never be weaponised to discredit genuine victims of rape and GBV. We must all unite as a society to fight GBV, always avoiding the politicisation of matters of this nature,” he said.
Thambo said that the media fraternity itself must always operate with the highest level of integrity, research and verification to avoid the malicious destruction of people’s reputations in the pursuit of sales, profits and breaking news.
Ishmet Davidson, CEO of Media24, said: “We are studying the judgment, which will determine the way forward.”