Phosa takes Sunday Independent to Ombudsman over defamatory article
Johannesburg, 27 June 2012. - ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa has referred his complaint over a front page article which appeared in The Sunday Independent of 24 June 2012 to the Press Ombudsman. The article alleges that he paid the legal fees of suspended ANCYL spokesman Floyd Shivambu in his personal capacity. The decision to refer the matter to the Ombudsman follows the paper's refusal to apologise to Phosa and correct the story.
Phosa is treating the matter as urgent because of his position as an elected official of the ANC and the fact that the ruling party is hosting a critical event in its calendar; the 2012 National Policy Conference, currently underway at Gallagher Estates in Johannesburg.
The Sunday Independent falsely published allegations that Phosa had paid Shivambu's legal fees for the case brought by Independent Newspapers in the Equality Court. The article used defamatory and sensationalist language and alleged that Phosa financed "the leader's nemesis in what could be interpreted as an open declaration of war" and that Phosa "paid the legal bill of Zuma's political foe". The article further states that Phosa phoned the sheriff who was involved in Shivambu's case.
These defamatory allegations were not only contained in the paper, but were also part of the advertising street posters distributed by the publication.
The facts of the matter are as follows:
1. The payment was made by the ANC on 5 June 2012 and not by Phosa in his individual capacity, as alleged by the paper. Phosa was acting in his capacity as an ANC official.
2. The sheriff phoned Phosa, and not the other way around, as suggested by the Sunday Independent.
3. The newspaper did not obtain comment from Phosa before printing the article.
Statement issued by Nicqui Galaktiou of Brian Kahn Attorneys on behalf of Mathews Phosa, June 27 2012
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