Apology to Malema
The Times apologises to former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema for inaccurately and unfairly reporting that a police probe into his financial affairs was "as good as complete" and that it was just a matter of time before authorities acted against him.
We also apologise for inaccurately stating that there was a joint investigation by the South Africa Revenue Service and the elite police unit, the Hawks, and for not seeking comment from Malema's legal representative.
This comes after Malema lodged a complaint with the Press Ombudsman regarding an article we published, "Malema on the ropes", by Chandre Prince on October 31 last year that said Malema partied up a storm in Mauritius amid rumours of his imminent arrest by the Hawks following an extensive investigation of his financial affairs.
Malema said in his complaint that a police probe into his affairs was at an early stage, which contradicted our report, which stated that the investigation was almost complete.
Deputy Press Ombudsman Johan Retief said the fact that there were several investigations into Malema's affairs was not in dispute. The question was about the state of those investigations.
He found that we had twice breached Article 1.1 of the Press Code (fairness, accuracy), twice Article 1.4 (verification) as well as Article 1.5 (obtaining comment).
The Times gladly corrects these mistakes.
In response to the ruling, Malema said: "The Times was given the benefit of the doubt for not questioning the liability and credibility of its anonymous sources who provided false information.
"In this political climate, it is not unlikely that a source who wants to remain anonymous has a personal agenda that should be questioned if the information provided cannot be verified.''
The deputy press ombudsman said in his ruling: "The Times has already suffered a dent to its credibility because of the length of time that has elapsed since its reportage of this matter. It would have salvaged its reputation if it [had] gone back to its sources early on to clarify the information they had given for its initial reports.
Malema said: ''I am happy with the ruling and that The Times has complied with it".
The Times, at the time of publication, had written the story based on information of sources who had been entirely reliable previously.
We did attempt to contact Malema directly and through the then spokesman of the ANC Youth League, Floyd Shivambu.
Visit www.presscouncil.org.za (rulings, 2012) for the full finding.