SANEF notes with deep concern further allegations against journalists at the Zondo Commission
1 October 2019
The South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) has noted the testimony of Colonel Kobus Roelofse at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture and the further allegations from whistleblower Colonel Naidoo. Naidoo told the Commission yesterday that several journalists including senior journalist at Tiso Blackstar, Ranjeni Munusamy received financial benefits from Crime Intelligence.
SANEF notes the problems that have been created by Col Naidoo’s mention of the fact that “journalists have been paid” without mentioning names. We believe that it is essential that the names are revealed and that the journalists implicated are given the space to respond.
We note that the Press Council Code is clear that “paid for” also called “brown envelope journalism” is completely unacceptable.
Section 2 of the Code deals with “Independence and Conflicts of Interest”. The Code states that:
The media shall:
2.1 not allow commercial, political, personal or other non-professional considerations to influence reporting, and avoid conflicts of interest as well as practices that could lead readers to doubt the media’s independence and professionalism;
2.2 not accept any benefit which may influence coverage;
2.3 indicate clearly when an outside organization has contributed to the cost of newsgathering; and
2.4 keep editorial material clearly distinct from advertising and sponsored events.
SANEF champions ethical journalism. If anyone has any evidence of unethical journalism – including the very serious breach of accepting funds for journalism – we encourage them to go to the Press Council.
Further, we have launched our own independent Inquiry into Media Credibility and Ethics, chaired by retired Judge Kathleen Satchwell. We encourage any South African with evidence of journalists acting unethically or illegally to approach Judge Satchwell and the authorities, including the Zondo Commission. Please send submissions to - [email protected]ainquiry.co.za.
In terms of Munusamy, we again welcome the decision by Tiso Blackstar to grant her special leave. We note Munusamy's strong denial of any wrong-doing, her detailed affidavit explaining the circumstances of her car repayments and related issues and her promise to cooperate fully with the Zondo Commission. We await the outcome of the Commission’s hearings and Tiso Blackstar's internal investigation.
Issued by Kate Skinner, Executive Director, SANEF, 1 October 2019