Professor Chris Malikane
City Press and its parent company Media24, have lost an appeal to overturn the decision of the Press Ombudsman who ruled in favour of Black First Land First (BLF) in its complaint that the newspaper had lied when it said Chris Malikane called for arms during a discussion on radical economic transformation. The discussion was convened by BLF.
Since addressing the gathering, commercial media went on the attack, accusing Malikane of “inciting war” and calling on South Africans to “take up arms” if the Constitution wasn’t amended to introduce a new economic path. This was a blatant lie. The lie was first peddled by News24 which reported that Malikane had called on people to take up arms. The issue had been brought up by an audience member who said he was very disappointed that the Professor was advocating for policies that had not worked and suggested taking up arms instead. In responding to this guest, who didn’t even stay to hear the response, Malikane said he had seen war on television and was afraid of it. He said the decision to take up arms would have to be discussed by the progressive forces and he couldn’t as an individual make such a decision.
BLF then lodged a complaint with the Press Ombudsman, who found that City Press had committed a serious transgression of journalistic ethics. City Press chose to appeal the decision instead of correcting its bad journalism. Naspers lost.
Responding to the victory, BLF bemoaned the Press Ombudsman process saying it was “totally ineffective. The tragression happened in April and only in mid-July is the matter settled. The good name of Professor Malikane has been soiled and whatever half-hearted apology we have managed to force out of City Press will not repair the harm done to Prof Malikane. City Press knew what it was doing and it has achieved its agenda”.
The lobby group called for an apology from “the racist Democratic Alliance (DA)” and the South African Communist Party (SACP) which it says had used the fake report to vilify Prof Malikane and had demanded his resignation as advisor to Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.
BLF has called for the establishment of a Media Tribunal saying commercial media failed to regulate itself. It cited the ruling by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) against Eusebius McKaiser as another example of bad journalism.