Ml Muhammad Bham | firstname.lastname@example.org
8 June 2023 | 17:00 CAT
3 min read
Former president Jacob Zuma was dealt another legal blow after the Pietermaritzburg High Court threw out his private prosecution case against News24’s Karyn Maughan.
Several organisations have welcomed the judgement, such as the Campaign for Freedom of Expression, Media Monitoring and the South African National Editors Forum.
This is the first time that a politician or a former president of a country is taking a private prosecution against an individual journalist about a story she had written that had been thoroughly researched. Any person who has a complaint about the media or believes that something is not being correctly reported has numerous avenues to follow, like the press council for anything online and their respected people, independent panels chaired by judges on those panels.
To take a private prosecution against an individual journalist is very much a form of intimidation and a slap suit, a strategic lawsuit against public participation specifically intended to silence and intimidate journalists.
SANEF’s Judy Sandison said that SANEF does not like to take people to court as it is a last resort thing, but, in this instance, it was an attack on media freedom and an individual journalist, and the cyberbullying was particularly bad, especially against female journalists; therefore SANEF has to take action.
SANEF said that they are finding more and more journalists are subject to attempted intimidation and harassment, which is highly worrying as it seems to happen more and more as we are closer to elections every time because of the various political agendas at play.
That does not mean that every journalist is perfect, but there are systems in place of self-regulation; no journalist and no media house is perfect, and often there are findings where the complainant is correct. Therefore, the media house is ordered to produce an apology and set things right. There are also times, and quite frequently sometimes, that things have to be set right because something has not been reported correctly.
That’s the reason every newsroom must follow an editorial code that covers the SABC and covers every other newsroom, but it certainly doesn’t cover every entity, and it is, for this reason, the Press Council is concerned that independent newspapers no longer belong to the press council, although they do wish that they would rejoin the press council.
Listen to the full interview with Sulaimaan Ravat on Sabahul Muslim here