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

IOL-Brkic ‘forensic report” nothing more than a list of scurrilous multi-baby questions?

THE EDITOR of an ‘elite investigative unit’ , housed deep inside Independent Media, the so-named Falcons claims to have uncovered evidence linking the Daily Maverick to Jackie Selebi and the underworld. A report emanating from Paul O’Sullivan’s ‘Forensics for Justice’ (FFJ) used to back the piece, claims to have publisher Branko Brkic under investigation. It appears to be nothing more than a scurrilous piece on a website posing strange questions.

None of the supporting documents demonstrate any links. Nor do they support any of the claims being made.

The so-called FFJ ‘report’ conveniently follows a months-long spat between IOL and Daily Maverick. With editor Sizwe Dlamini utilising the list of questions provided by FFJ to create a rather fancy organogram — a diagram whose arrows appear to be absolutely meaningless.

If either FFJ or IOL has actual hard evidence or even a prima facie case, then surely the public would appreciate if they could publish this information in the public domain? Until then we can only suggest readers ignore the posting of salacious online claims posing as questions, questions whose answers would essentially require not only the discovery of information under oath, but a prima facie case, — surely an abuse of the justice system?

The resulting triumphant article fails to use qualifying words like ‘alleged’ nor does it provide any objective distance.

Its all facts, I tell you.

One may as well ask questions: Is Paul O’Sullivan an alien from Mars? If there is smoke there must be fire, what next, alien babies? An alien trafficking ring?

The bizarre allegations include strange claims that Daily Maverick is running an online subscription racket that provides membership access for R200 ‘without any tangible benefits’. Err, isn’t this usually called a ‘pay-wall’, as used by News24 and Mail and Guardian? Nope, that would be a paywall, what Daily Maverick have is a ‘supporting subscription’ model.

A cornerstone of the IOL claim is that Daily Maverick is passing itself off as an altruistic charity for public benefit when in fact the company is ‘in business for profit’. This is the first I have heard that Daily Maverick aren’t actually in business.

The specious claim of a scandal, seems to revolve around the failure of a subsidiary magazine company of Daily Maverick which appears to have been liquidated, resulting in write-off of a R4 million loan from the IDC. To give some context the size of the loan is an order of magnitude smaller than the double digit millions borrowed by Sekunjalo from PIC, to purchase IOL.

If anything the claim demonstrates why capitalism is more efficient at dealing with risk than statism, and why government support of media and other state-run companies creates a situation of ‘too big to fail’, with the resulting drain on treasury? Isn’t this why business exists in the first place, either to make a profit or to shutdown?

To spice up the piece, state capture and the Guptas are thrown into the mix. I suspect, next up will be an all-boys Choir performing underwater?

Medialternatives has reviewed all the legal-looking ‘supporting documentation’ currently available on the site, all of the affidavits appear to have no links to the actual story. The Falcons story further fails to demonstrate any links, and there are thus no details as to why the mysterious arrows may be leading us to Pyramids under the Sea?

Then again the farcical ‘incomplete investigation’ may just be click-bait for Iqbal Surve’s top-notch multi-baby unit, remember the unit run by Piet Rampedi? If so, IOL have certainly swallowed the bait.

IOL peddling ‘alternative facts’ as decuplets shortlisting axed

INDEPENDENT MEDIA has sought to reframe its fraudulent ‘decuplet scoop’, within a narrative of human trafficking. Not only is the health department pursuing charges, but the latest attempt to insert authority into the storyline by gaining a nomination for its own ‘miniseries’ on the subject, which is nothing more than a sad repackaging of events, appears to have fallen flat, after the organisers were alerted by SANEF.

“After the Inma awards competition shortlist was made public on March 8, certain concerns were brought to our attention regarding a social media campaign promoting a baby trade story in South Africa.

“Inma understands how important trust is to news media. The shortlist process can be, and in this instance has been, used to provide additional information which the judges had no access to at the time of judging. 

“Given the opportunity to review information from all parties related to the concerns raised, our international judges have reconsidered the entry, and it is no longer a finalist. We respect the jury’s decision.

That the owners of a nation-wide daily news outlet saw fit to ignore an internal review of the fictional story promoted as fact, by Pretoria News editor Piet Rampedi must surely rate as an abuse of the public trust? Instead of coming clean, and apologising for the lack of editorial oversight, IOL doubled-down, calling the SANEF position, ‘vindictive’.

That they now seek to legitimise the baldfaced lies and outright falsehood by creating promotional works which are clearly in the realm of propaganda, and should hardly be considered publicity and public relations, must raise questions as to the role of the company in claiming to generate news. As the saying goes, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, not a sorry attempt to provide plausibility with what looks like a first-year video project produced by a journalism cadet.

Over the past weeks, Medialternatives has noticed the appearance of a plethora of paid propaganda pieces relating to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, stemming from questionable sources, such as Russian, Chinese and Iranian state media. It is clear that Independent believe they are able to promote the ravings of an autocrat and dictator in Moscow, whilst pushing for South African support of an emerging Anti-Democratic nexus surrounding the Eurasian despot.

We urge readers to be wary of where they gain their sources of information.

Verwoerdian newspeak, Israel disinformation and INM bogus babies, it’s all real

IF YOU think replacing an Haraam Israel with an Halaal Palestine is the great moral issue of our time, instead of bothering to grapple with the complex secular versus religious issues involved in the region, and the resulting Jerusalem problematic which has caused me to label the real issues a tragic case of injustice vs injustice . Think again.

You’re probably one of many local armchair activists and casual readers who get your news from outlets such as Independent Media. An organisation currently at the centre of a bogus baby scandal.

Readers such as yourself are probably experiencing an over-simplistic feedback loop based upon baldfaced lies and propagandist attempts to frame the issues in black and white, whilst burying the secular concerns and consequences of a global religious inquisition and blood libel, raised here on more than several occasions?

You may be a little surprised when I proceed to relate to you the story of yet another propaganda moment orchestrated by Independent.

In 2015 I issued a complaint to the Press Ombud regarding the extraordinary serialization of the life and times of Peter Plum, a former Nazi and member of the Hitler Youth, who at the time was also suing the Allies via the international criminal courts for as he alleges their ‘starting WW2’.

The Independent Group proceeded to issue a denial that the man was even a Nazi, but rather as they put it, was simply an ‘innocent victim of Hitler’ and the piece merely illustrative of a ‘diversity of viewpoints’, and for which he was entitled to his opinion.

The results they claimed, did not constitute hate speech nor propaganda for war.

South Africa’s sweetheart Press Ombud Johan Retief proceeded to oblige in upholding Independent’s absurd resort to press privilege, privileges which they continue to deny other members of the press, not to mention forgetting the proverbial public right-of-reply.

The pieces were published in the weeks following the November Paris Attacks in which radical Islamists killed 130 people, including 90 at the Bataclan theatre attending an Eagles of Death Metal concert.

I therefore wish to remind readers that it was Justice Millin, in a judgment delivered in the Transvaal Supreme Court on July 13, 1943, who pronounced on Hendrik Verwoerd:

“He (Verwoerd) did support Nazi propaganda, he did make his paper a tool of the Nazis in South Africa, and he knew it.”

The case arose out of an action, brought by Verwoerd (as editor of the Transvaler) against the Johannesburg Star, for publishing an article, entitled “Speaking Up for Hitler” , in which the Transvaler was accused of falsifying news in support of Nazi propaganda and generally acting as a tool of the enemy,

Verwoerd lost the case. In a lengthy judgment, extending to more than 25,000 words, the judge found that Verwoerd had in fact furthered Nazi propaganda.

The defendants had proved, said the judge, that Verwoerd “caused to be published a large body of matter which was on the same general lines as matter coming to the Union in the Afrikaans transmissions from Zeesen and which was calculated to make the Germans look upon the Transvaler as a most useful adjunct to this propaganda service”

Tragically Verwoerd went on to become Prime Minister of South Africa in 1958, a decade after the Nationalists attained power.