Comediangate: IOL a laughing stock after ‘exposing’ comic

THIS week IOL waded into yet another ‘multibaby’ scandal, this time involving the identity of an account on social media platform x.com.

The news group was forced to issue a hasty public apology for fingering a KZN comedian, who they claimed was part of a ‘conspiracy involving apartheid-era stratcom agents.’

Online personality The Kiffness tweeted:

“Inexcusable defamation from @IOL.

@IqbalSurve, you can’t keep making unsubstantiated claims about people & get away with”

Here is how the IOL apology read:

“We previously reported and posted that the person behind the Goolammv X account was Mohammed Yacoob Vawda, a UKZN lecturer, SABC radio personality, and stand-up comedian. We were mistaken, and confirm that he is not the person behind that account. We unreservedly retract the accusation and apologise to Mohammed Yacoob Vawda and his family. Please desist from directing threats and abuse at him.”

Yes IOL are clowns, the dangerous kind.

Not only were IOL dead-wrong about the identity of @Goolammv, but their shoddy attempt to correct their mistake by spinning the story as just a minor hiccup, a silly detail involving mistaken identity, by literally going through the telephone book, to finger another man,  merely confirms the group has waltzed straight from a ‘multibaby’ to a ‘multi-comedian’ scandal.

What has lead to this astonishing loss of editorial oversight?

The comedy of errors really begins after CEO Iqbal Surve was once again challenged on his failure to ‘pay back money’. That’s right, money borrowed (and never paid back) from a union pension fund which was  used to orchestrate a buyout of the Independent Group from previous owner’s Tony O’Reilly.

Surve at first attempted to deflect attention from such public questions on X.com by claiming without any evidence,  that @Goolammv was an ‘apartheid agent’. 

This writer was party to the thread and witnessed the sequence of events which lead up to the IOL story by a paid hack.

Following the incident Surve now claims “@goolammv Goolam Muhammed Suliman Vawda is a charlatan, tender entrepreneur, money launderer connected to powerful politicians”

The claim seems absurd and licentiousness given freedom of speech within the public sphere. It is clear Surve sees a need to abuse his position, to target his critics, to avoid such questions.

His social media feed increasingly relies on dubious sources, scurrilous rumours and unsubstantiated information, for example one Mehmet Dag, an Egyptian expat and one-man political party, is a regular supporter,  who claims to have a dossier on various conspiracies involving local politicians.

Readers may remember Dag as the man behind a campaign to remove LGBTIQ rights from our constitution alongside the rainbow crossing in Green Point. 

Surve’s latest attention-seeking suggests that IOL sources are in reality Boswell Wilkie clowns.

Fake news, unreliable sources, the cost of IOL yellow War journalism

THE first casualty in war is the truth, and saying this doesn’t help the fact that not only has our daily press failed to distance itself from the conflict, many journos actively transgress the boundaries of objectivity and reason.

Immediately following the 7 October ‘Simchat Torah’ massacre, involving the greatest loss of Jewish life since WW2, IOL published an article warning the public of ‘fake news’ circulating about the Hamas-Israel war.

Not only was the article a rewrite of an earlier Associated Press article, but it engaged the public with a purported fiction concerning the beheading of 40 babies, when practically nobody was making such a claim.

As Piers Morgan would later point out 40 babies had been killed, ‘some were beheaded’.

Coming in the immediate aftermath of the event, whose details were still under forensic investigation, IOL appeared to be rather callous stenographers for Hamas, whose spokespersons denied any civilian casualties, despite their livestreaming of the event.

The atrocities and the resulting atrocity denial are both traumatic for victims as well as victims families — the hostage situation remains yet unresolved as Israel bombards Gaza in retaliation, and the world faces a major humanitarian crisis. Will we ever see a ceasefire?

IOL proceeds to quote as fact, an apparent communique by the Hamas terror organisation as if the facts are well established:

“Fact: Not only has Hamas issued a statement rejecting allegations that it committed crimes against women and children, but the White House has retracted President Joe Biden’s claim that he saw pictures of beheaded children following Hamas’s deadly attack on Israel. A White House spokesperson clarified that US officials and the president have not seen pictures or confirmed such reports independently. In terms of sexual assault of hostages, this claim could not be verified, and Hamas said the claim was “lies”.”

IOl have even run with the story, with Yasmin Jacobs trolling several Piers Morgan interviews with the same partisan tone, this as the outlet publishes verbatim claims made by Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera — unproven assertions the channel has ‘exposed Israeli counter- claims regarding an alleged bombing of the al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza.’

Drone video shows the hospital still intact, it appears a misfired rocket hit a parking lot outside the hospital. The death toll is grossly overstated by DIRCO. Here is Associated Press confirmation and apology, retraction by New York Times, link to video

Social media was alive today with allegations of a similar incident involving a medieval Church. AP press were quick to respond: A medieval church in Gaza was not razed by Israeli bombing, contrary to online posts

Open letter to IOL’s Lance Witten,

Dear Lance Witten,

Your Editorial refers

A delusion is an unshakeable belief in something that’s untrue. You could call the Israeli government right wing and even extremists, and the status quo highly problematic (and take a non-binary approach) but you cannot call, the rape and murder of over 260 innocent civilians at an outdoor dance party, and the taking of hostages at the Nova Peace Festival, on the Weekend, the result of a ‘just cause’. 

During apartheid, if there was any doubt as to the modus of our struggle, we could point to a Freedom Charter, a secular document outlining human rights as the basis for our resistance. There is no similar document in existence amongst any of the opposing parties — neither Fatah nor Hamas. At no point during our struggle did any cleric nor religious authority provide a blank cheque. The ends do not justify the means here, and one has got to question the credibility of the bald assumptions being made by people who should know better? 

It is not helpful to bemoan Islamic fundamentalism, but in the same breath to continue to pursue equivocation after equivocation, the likes of which are demonstrated by a Hamas spokesperson on Sky News claiming that ‘no civilians have been killed by Hamas’ over the Weekend because the organisation has redefined civilians as ‘enemy combatants’. 

Shani Louk, a German-Israeli tattoo artist, captured at the Nova Sukkot Peace Festival, whose body was paraded naked through the streets of Gaza, is an example of the depravity of a political movement which until 2017 saw its goal as the ”elimination of all Jews wherever they may be found, and subsequently ‘all Zionists’. The attack on an outdoor music festival has demonstrated this group are the equivalent of ISIS in outlook, banning electronic music festivals within Gaza, imprisoning LGBT, and reducing the status of women to mere objects. 

The distinction drawn between Zionist and Non-Zionist has turned out to be both unsustainable and discriminatory. My own choices in this matter have been removed by an ecclesiastical case, reducing my identity to nothing more than stereotype and caricature, my rights expunged by zealous moral policing by South Africa’s own corrupt legal authorities. It is not a trivial matter that judges such as Siraj Desai openly support Hamas.

My country is currently a member of an economic block that recently concluded an agreement with Iran, a state which desires nothing more than the removal of Israel from the map, alongside advocacy of the death penalty for LGBT and ‘moral opposition’ to electronic beat music. In the wake of the 1979 Islamic revolution, the Iranian government ‘turned pop music into forbidden fruit, condemning it as indecent’.

I currently do not possess the right to a legal personality, based upon equality, privacy and freedom of religion, which in my case entails freedom from the religious views of others, this within the borders of South Africa, my home. I therefore challenge you to openly debate your perverse ‘just war’ thesis and especially the so-called apartheid analogy

Close your mind, drop your readers: IOL announce loss of 115 editorial posts

IN 2018 I wrote an opinion piece warning, that closure of debate, in particular the gutting of letters pages of titles published by IOL would lead to ruin. The job of a free press is to reflect public opinion, to guide and mediate popular discourse. As a media freedom watchdog put it: “The backbone of any democracy is an independent, professional and responsible media. Their role is to inform, criticise and stimulate debate.”

The daily press may often colour journalism with its own aims and objectives, but when it does so, willy nilly without concern for its readers, it becomes nothing less than yellow journalism. Political propaganda has no place in the broad-sheets of flag-ship titles such as the Cape Times and Cape Argus.

Over the past months we have seen the encroachment of paid agitprop from Russian and Chinese news agencies, Pravda, Sputnik & Xinhau, promoting BRICS ‘Socialism from Above’ alongside the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

To make matters worse, the long-running feud between Dr Iqbal Survé and other news outlets has resulted in a situation in which disputes inform newsroom decisions — a partisan, combative approach which leads to news editors failing to determine fact from fiction. News gathering functions are further stunted by lack of credibility stemming from a discredited Multi-baby scandal.

If management had come clean at the outset, and dealt with the problem at Pretoria News, instead of hunkering down in the basement, other titles may have been saved.

Appointing a complete ignoramus and bigot, Aziz Hartley as group Editor-in-Chief cannot have done IOL any favours, the outcome was to encourage minority parties on the fringes of SA politics to become deal-makers in Anti-Gay Pride coalitions, which resulted in these communities feeling threatened by the group, which to its credit, then belatedly published some defence of LGBT rights, but too late to rectify the damage.

While IOL may have been somewhat quicker to react in this instance, they failed miserably on other fronts.

The Cape Times continues to be stained by a sad episode involving the serialisation of the life and times of a member of the Hitler Youth, this at the very start of its new management. Under Aneez Salie, it has done very little to correct the impression that what is required to gain attention of IOL newsrooms, is membership of the Muslim Brotherhood, if not in fact, then in spirit.

It is a sad day to see titles such as Pretoria News disappear while other titles and Weekend editions are rationalised.

SEE: Closure of the Mind, Independent Media’s suppression of open debate and a free press

IOL forced to apologise for smear campaign targeting Daily Maverick

INDEPENDENT Media have been forced to apologise for their smear campaign. “During March 2020 Daily News published an article titled ‘Daily Maverick asked me to write and do negative tweets about Dr Iqbal Survé’ in print and on its digital platform within Independent Online. The article accused Daily Maverick and its editor Branko Brkic of orchestrating and financially sponsoring a fake news smear campaign against prominent politicians, businessmen and executives, including Independent Media executive chairman Dr Iqbal Survé.”

The source of the article, Modibe Modiba, was later ordered by the High Court to unconditionally retract, apologise, and pay damages for his unlawful and defamatory allegations against Daily Maverick and Mr Brkic. Daily News Editor Ayanda Mdluli, and Independent Online editor Lance Witten hereby unconditionally retract the article and apologise to Daily Maverick and its editor Branko Brkic for the harm that was occasioned through the publication of Mr Modiba’s unlawful and defamatory allegations.

Kanye West: Is South Africa becoming a safe haven for anti-Semitism, homophobia?

READERS may remember Kanye West, the musician caught in an Anti-Semitic spiral, having gone from Racist bad to Nazi worse in the space of six months. Now IOL claims “Kanye West says he’s ‘moving to South Africa’ to start a new life”. Of course, what IOL meant was there were ten Kanye West’s under the bed — the news outlet has to date refused to apologise for a fake multibaby story, even though editor Piet Rampedi subsequently resigned.

The article by ZamaNdosi Cele does make it clear that the video is “making the rounds on social media platform, TikTok” but readers are expected to trawl through twitter postings before discovering that the origin is a Kanye West parody account and the story has been trafficked by an international ring of news rappers.

There is certainly no attempt by Cele to gain any comment from a newsworthy source, nor is there a clear warning by editors that the material has been debunked and the outlet has been caught out fabricating stories before. Readers would need to move over to SA news site Briefly to discover the truth.

West earlier posted antisemitic tropes on his social media accounts, shared antisemitic conspiracy theories with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and later, on social media, threatened violence against Jews

You may thus be forgiven for thinking the IOL article appears to offer solace to Anti-Semites, wishing to come to South Africa to catch the homophobic, Pro-Palestine alliance emerging between the ANC and EFF whose lack of a clear majority has resulted in a shameful sacrifice of LBGT rights by the left?

In July 2022 the Al-Ghurbaah Foundation condemned a fatwa against homosexuality issued by the Muslim Judicial Council accusing it of “mere reliance on the classical scholarly opinions of the 9th century.”

Clearly the mainstream press in South Africa are living in Cloudcuckooland where Palestine and Israel are concerned. While Palestinian gunmen were massacring Jews praying at a Jerusalem synagogue on Holocaust Remembrance Day, the following items escaped editorial attention;

SEE: Yeezus you ain’t Jeezus

Iqbal Survé misrepresents Ombud findings, spins external review, only to have false decuplets story rejected by Public Protector #babygate

IN A RECENT interview with JJ Tabane, IOL chairman Iqbal Survé claimed that his company had been cleared by its own internal Ombudsperson. In essence Piet Rampedi’s Decuplets story was both misleading and true at the same time, necessitating a man-hunt for 10 non-existent babies and their missing birth records — obviously never born, but somehow also trafficked, exiting the scene like a well-known religious icon on a flying horse.

The outlandish claims are not only a misrepresentation and equivocation in the face of damming evidence to the contrary, but fly in the face of both an external finding by Advocate Michael Donen, and now the Public Protector.

It was Yogas Nair, Independent Media’s own press ombud, who first issued a pronouncement that Rampedi had ‘erred in his eagerness and failed to follow standard company procedure.’ The story was thus a hoax, necessitating a retraction and apology to readers and the world, all suckered by what had been trumpeted as an ‘IOL exclusive’

The internal decision was practically reiterated by an external review by Advocate Michael Donen, whose report said the publication of the story was both “reckless”, and a breach of Independent Media’s code of ethics.

“He had it in the headline and first sentence that 10 babies were born when all he had was a report by the father. He had a duty to find corroborative evidence,” Donen explained.

Donen’s findings were noted by SANEF as was the outcome that IOL had published ‘an article stating as fact that a woman had given birth to ten babies, without any evidence’.

The external review thus recommended disciplinary action be taken against Piet Rampedi, of which very little has been heard in the aftermath, in the effort to hush-hush the outcome.

Given the latest report confirming that the media claims that a ‘Tembisa 10’ mother gave birth to decuplets in June 2021 at Steve Biko Hospital were “unsubstantiated”, one would expect at very least a public retraction from Rampedi followed by an unequivocal apology to its readers from the company and especially those journalists the group has chosen to slander, for simply exposing the hoax.

Instead, Survé has chosen to walk the path of evasion, fabrication and outright fantasy. One whopper told after the next. Take the chairman’s response to a simple question put during the Tabane interview — of the decuplet’s story, where did it end? Survé responds:

Our own Press Ombudsman found against the editor Piet Rampedi, which shows you that our Press Ombudsman system works, that it was very critical of Piet Rampedi. It was critical of Piet Rampedi not for the fact whether or not there were decuplets or not. It was critical because of the way he reported it and because he had not verified certain information. However as a result of the seriousness of that matter, what I then did was appoint one of the top retired human rights advocates in the country … Adv Michael Donen

Survé then claims that far from lacking any evidence to support the assertion, Donen instead “confirmed multiple births, and there was trafficking”.

At the time of writing this, Medialternatives had yet to receive comment from Donen.

JJ Tabane cancels Anton Harber interview #Babygate

LAST WEEK JJ Tabane provided the owner of Independent Media, one Iqbal Survé, with airtime to tackle a column written by Anton Harber essentially calling for an advertising boycott of the group. The two have been at loggerheads since the publication of a now discredited multi-baby “decuplets” story by Piet Rampedi of the Pretoria News.

IOL have refused to retract, ignoring press statements issued by the Department of Health and also the would-be mother’s own family. The company then doubled-down on its ‘scoop’, claiming that an as yet unrecognised ‘world record for child births’, (see nonuplets below) had instead turned into a tragic story about child trafficking.

In short, according to Survé, the 10 babies ‘had been stolen’, presumably for ‘body parts’, necessitating a hunt for their whereabouts. The missing medical records, are now seemingly lost in the video editing room behind a dramatised series on Youtube, punted by the media outlet. The series is nothing more than an attempt to reframe the initial story, and has been condemned by SANEF, a national editors forum to which IOL are no longer active members.

Harber’s column in Business Day followed several critical columns including one on Operation Hlanza. Survé’ appears to have published his own responses: Does Anton Harber and his cohort suffer from media myopia and amnesia? and Anton Harber – the master of the art of deflection and protector of the golden cufflinks in which he essentially accuses Harber of being a ‘racist’, and also of being ‘compromised’ due to his position as “Caxton Chair of Journalism at Wits University”.

In the latest eNCA interview, which the Etv news channel refused to upload and is only available from Survé’s own Youtube channel, Survé’ can be seen accusing Harber of objecting to the appointment of a then ’26-year-old black editor at Cape Times’, after which he accuses the former editor of the Weekly Mail, of being simply a ‘conservative white liberal’ with an axe to grind, and thus Business Day and other news outlets are merely’ a bunch of liberals’ or worse, ‘conservatives’.

Upon being questioned as to whether “Rampedi had made a mistake” Survé responded by explaining at length the group’s ombudsman process, and claimed a legal practitioner appointed by the group was somehow an authority on the matter, Survé asserted inter alia, that IOL’s own ombudsman, apparently a senior advocate, had thus ‘cleared the company’ by issuing a finding that the decuplets had indeed been kidnapped. The chairman of IOL then makes much of his association with a philanthropic organisation geared towards children’s rights, before continuing his invective against the liberalism, of which he is also a beneficiary.

Survé seemed keen to avoid pursuing obvious questions relating to the Weekly Mail’s treatment of the late Winnie Mandela, and instead focuses on his own relationship to Mandela, despite public questions having been raised into the veracity of his own claims.

Harber in turn has accused JJ Tabane of pandering to Survé’s ‘scandalous accusations’. To date, there is no official statement from the news channel.

Yesterday, the public received news of “the world’s only nonuplets – nine babies born at the same time – which have safely returned home to Mali after spending the first 19 months of their lives in Morocco. The babies broke the Guinness World Record for the most children delivered in a single birth to survive.”

Kanye West: Yeezus, you ain’t Mr Jeezus

KANYE WEST is certainly never one to avoid controversy, but over the past weeks, his pronouncements on social media have been called out for being nothing more than vulgar anti-Semitism. The result was the cancellation of lucrative contracts with sports brand Adidas, the shelving of an unreleased documentary, and a major talent agency CAA cutting ties.

Both singer Boy George and celebrity Kim Kardashian have spoken out against the rapper’s casual resort to hate speech.

Kardashian wrote that hate speech is “never OK” or “excusable.”

“I stand together with the Jewish community and call on the terrible violence and hateful rhetoric towards them to come to an immediate end,” she added.

Instead of issuing an apology, West doubled down along his bigot-alley pronouncements by claiming the term ‘anti-Semite’ was now akin to the ‘use of the N-word’, before taking a month-long ‘vow of silence’.

His absurd attempt at issuing reverse psychology certainly fell flat, since such an equivocation seeks to deprive black Jews and Jews of color with what is, in reality a stock defence against racism. The term Anti-Semitism was coined in 1879 by  Wilhelm Marr to designate the anti-Jewish campaigns underway in central Europe at that time, it was later adopted by academics as a better sounding term than Judenhass, or Jew-hatred.

While some may feel a little sympathetic with West encountering contemporary cancel culture, and his views certainly deserve opprobrium, South Africans should feel ashamed that local news-outlets appear to have censored the news story.

One can only surmise that the reasons for doing so is because cautionary tales about bigots and thus the antics of the rapper also known as Ye, who just happen to be black, don’t sit well with editorial attempts to normalise anti-Semitism, at the same time Anti-Semitism’s proponents, seek to excuse racism whenever it appears convenient to do so.

A similar incident involving bizarre Holocaust statements (subsequently retracted) made by actress and talk-show host Whoopie Goldberg earlier this year, was similarly given the silent treatment by the local press, who seem to believe anti-Semitism doesn’t exist.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) ‘non-binding working definition of anti-Semitism’ states: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

In South Africa, a working definition might include ‘open hostility towards Jewish secular identity’.

If the brouhaha around David Unterhalter and the Judicial Service Commission was to be considered, a working definition could incorporate perverse anti-Secular ‘inquiry into religion’ in other words, religious inquisition or investigation that tends to avoid or exclude members of other religions, thus unfairly discriminating against members of the Jewish faith or persons who define themselves as Jewish

Conspiracy theorist Sizwe Dlamini is at it again

NO SOONER had ‘investigative reporter’ Sizwe Dlamini, of the Independent Group’s self-styled ‘falcons’ investigation team, erroneously claimed that he had exposed Branko Birkic’s Daily Maverick, for being, (wait for it), a ‘newspaper with subscribers’, the conspiracy theorist was railing against the Institute for Race Relations (IRR) for its backing of online site, Daily Friend.

Dlamini’s latest exercise in yellow journalism proceeds at the outset to laud IRR for being ‘guardians of liberal values in South Africa” before embarking on what could also be termed an ‘agit prop conspiracy piece’ attempting to discredit the conservative thinktank for being a ‘neo-liberal’ organisation funded by the US State Department.

You can read his earlier missive here.

Neither the common dreams article referred to by Dlamini nor another piece by the same key author Roscoe Palm mention IRR and the Daily Friend. Rather these pieces pillory the National Endowment for Democracy (NED and Open Society Foundation (OSF) and their alleged support of 24 news organizations within the country, including Mail and Guardian and the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism.

It should be noted that the authors Palm and former Congress of the People, (Cope) organizer, Philip Dexter, are co-founders of the Pan African Institute for Socialism and cannot claim to be objective reporters.

amaBhungane have issued strong denials of any support from USAid and its Micah Reddy has taken “issue with a number of claims and suggestions made by the authors” calling the article a “demonstrable lie.”

Sam Sole of amaBhungane responds: “Although the article purports to be an analysis of a real phenomenon, it is actually an attempt to manufacture a moral panic without disclosing the origins of the debate or the involvement of one of the authors, Roscoe Palm.” You can read his full response here.

Journo Chris Roper is also outed as an alleged CIA funded-agent by Palm (any comment’s appreciated).

It would seem patronising to suggest as Palm and Philip Dexter do, that other organisations such as News24, which are amply funded due to their connections with former Nationalist Party oligarchs, and which have long since been exposed here for involvement in government kickbacks like the notorious MNet pay-tv deal, require any foreign aid, if at all. In fact the obvious failure to tackle my own revelations, and case, lead one to conclude there to be an obvious agenda flowing from the obfuscation and removal of the primary context of apartheid.

The links to the American State Department presented are tenuous at best and seem drafted to coincide with the recent visit by Secretary of State Athony Blinken amidst a fracus over Taiwan and Ukraine.

The NED association with Ronald Reagan’s purported covert operations against Nicaragua in the 1980s and thus by implication, the work of US intelligence agencies such as the CIA, are used by Palm and Dexter as broad brush strokes, harking back to the Cold War, and thus a convenient bogeyman with which to smear progressive and conservative media alike.

It is clear that both Dexter and Dlamini view anyone vaguely to the centre of the far-left as compromised. Critics of ultra-left factions trumpeting ‘Radical Economic Transformation’ and ‘Expropriation without Compensation’, are thus according to these self-appointed spokesmen for Socialism, nothing more than dangerous counter-Marxists. Committed capitalists, who if parties like the EFF were to attain power, might need to attend compulsory political re-education camps, or face involuntary psychiatric confinement, as do Cuba’s own dissidents.

One should again note the weird contradiction in logic displayed by Dlamini, for at once praising liberalism before engaging in a critique of neoliberalism, which in many respects could also be a criticism of government regulation and Keynesian economics, if only it weren’t a tired scholastic segue, one tediously proposing a fundamental reorganisation of society along Marxist-Leninist principles.

Independent Media is the daily news outlet which continues to stand by a thoroughly discredited multi-baby story, (babygate) and which has found itself in a battle to maintain its banking facilities, this after various banks deemed Executive Chairman Iqbal Surve, a ‘reputational risk’. Clearly a company out to get other media outlets with which it disagrees, and then calling foul when placed on the receiving end of serious criticism whose outcome is of no small consequence?

Next up: South Africans have unwittingly been watching American movies for decades. Better alert the press.

SEE: Manufactured dissent: Authoritarian left and right join hands against South Africa’s independent media

SEE: Harber responds — Mainstream media need to think twice when following the ‘facts