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an attempt to reframe the initial story, and has been condemned by SANEF, a national editors forum to which IOL are no longer active members.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.”