Ombudsman Shambles as press dodge accusations of xeno-aprobia

Joe Thloloe, embattled press ombud accused of xenophobia
Joe Thloloe, embattled press ombud accused of xenophobia

THE controversy over South Africa’s corporate press ombud continues, with new allegations of xenophobia by the Media Monitoring Project whose application to the independent structure was turned down. MMP complained about the use of the term “Alien” to describe refugees, immigrants and non-nationals. The logic used to deny the MMP redress is curious to say the least. According to Joe Thloloe, it was the applicant who was confused about the use of the term, and editors have every right to be xenophobic.

This writer is not in the least bit surprised at the decision, since a complaint made in 2007 concerning defamatory comments and false statements made by a Cape Times journalist* was also turned down on the basis that the applicant (DRL) had no civil rights as such and could not expect any leeway or agreement as to the mandate of the ombud viz vi, the Bill of Rights in particular articles 15 and 16. At the time, the Press Code did not contain any reference to the constitution and the press operated in a vacuum so to speak.

In short, the corporate press, commercial news, call it what you want, is incapable of regulating itself. Furthermore, the ombud is nothing more than a sham. For starters, there is no review process and anyone making a complaint is at a severe disadvantage. I would have to put down a R20 000 deposit at the High Court, merely to defend my rights to be heard, which most obviously have been denied. So plus one for the fascists and neoconservatives at Newspaper House.

Journalism SA reaction:

South Africa’s Newspapers can’t be Trusted to Tell the Truth

* For the record, I have now attempted to exercise my common law rights to enter a charge of defamation against the person concerned, but to no avail. The docket has gone missing.