FOR DECADES Naspers was during the apartheid years, an incubator for racist government, producing no less than three Prime Ministers. PW Botha, HF Verwoerd and DF Malan. All had the backing of the corporation formed by the Broederbond. With the appointment of a new local CEO, following a listing in Amsterdam, the company has once again attempted to rebrand itself.
Unfortunately, the focus on assets avoids questions as to why Naspers was a ‘traditional sinecure for the national party’, providing funding, propaganda and support. This is a lot more involvement than today’s media spin-doctors would have us believe.
Naspers collaboration with apartheid is given short thrift by the likes of Joseph Cotterill of BDlive, who believes the group was simply “a publisher once condemned as a mouthpiece of the apartheid regime in SA .” These reports all fail to mention ongoing litigation against the company, and continued opposition to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission.
A more balanced view of the campaign against the commission can be found in a review of Ton Vosloo’s biography “Across Boundaries” by veteran journalist and former Mail & Guardian editor Anton Harber.
Lizette Rabie also finds time to present her case in support of the so-called ‘TRC rebels”, a group of former apartheid collaborators who succeeded in turning themselves into ‘conscientious journalists” while ignoring the plight of those in the struggle press, recipients of Naspers dirty tricks.
But according to Hennie van Vuuren, the company was also a ‘tap root of the National Party’.
So what exactly is going on?
After 1994, the corporation found itself on the back foot politically-speaking. Sanctioned by the TRC for its failure to come clean over its role during apartheid, but with PW Botha avoiding a subpoena to appear, the company grudgingly introduced a BEE scheme, appointing Jakes Gerwel of the President’s office to the board, alongside Francois Groepe.
And so the game of political chicanery continued.
With Groupe moving on to the Reserve Bank, Chairperson Gerwel passing on in office, and the company still attempting to gag me for speaking out about racism, race profiling and de facto newsroom segregation at its then community newspapers division.
The resulting anti-Semitic and anti-Secular counter-case, was more than simply a corrupt and unfair proceeding before the labour court of South Africa. Nothing short of a racist miscarriage of justice involving a Naspers business associate and labour broker presiding over a matter involving his own client, while I was restrained from calling witnesses. The corruption is currently the subject of an as yet unresolved complaint to the Judicial Services Commission.
Two days after filing a further Equality Court complaint regarding the Group’s ongoing campaign against the Truth & Reconciliation Commission and thus the trashing of the report by Naspers council, then Group CEO Esmerie Weideman issued an apology to the heavens. The 2015 statement references one case-limited example of a single employee of colour, Conrad Sidego, who had experienced problems with separate facilities.
The EC case is currently in abeyance pending an appeal of a decision by Legal Aid SA not to grant legal aid where a substantial injustice would result from my not possessing an attorney in the matter.
If you wish to fund my action against LASA, you can do so on BackaBuddy.
Needless to say the latest racist decision by the High Court, once again trivialising the TRC report, (‘too long to read’, according to AJ Martin) in the process, creating an exclusion of the Preamble to our Constitution, cannot hope to gain any approval under our nation’s Constitutional dispensation.
With pressure mounting for change, and with a sophisticated new share structure that preserves white privilege, in the process moving the now multinational operation out of the country, Naspers mandarins have once again dealt out a hand that seeks to gain influence within South Africa’s political sphere.
The appointment of no less than Ramaphosa Foundation board member Phuti Mahanyele-Dabengwa to manage Naspers South African operations, echoes the groups earlier effort to inveigle Mandela. This while Ramaphosa is on the ropes following a report by the Public Protector.
Time can only tell whether the strategy of co-opting the incumbent President, while maintaining apartheid profits within the company, (now outside the country), will succeed in burying the TRC Final Report once and for all.
DEFEND STATUS OF TRUTH & RECONCILIATION COMMISSION BEFORE THE COURTS
DEFEND THE PREAMBLE TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
I have less than one month in which to file an SCA appeal in terms of s17 (2) (b) against AJ Martin’s racist decision (CA18417/17) to not provide relief with regard to representation in a matter affecting the TRC and its Final Report.
The High Court decision literally agreeing with Legal Aid SA in first instance, that it ‘would take a long time to read the report’ and therefore it can be ignored, and also, in second instance, upholding validity of LASA chief officer‘s view that the matter has somehow ‘prescribed’ since the commission ‘wound up its work some time ago‘, is demonstrably racist.
Attacking the legal basis of the TRC, an inquiry into gross violations of human rights under apartheid, still a crime against humanity, for which there is no statute of limitations, trivialises the report, lowers its status before the courts and denigrates the memory of the victims and survivors. It is certainly contrary to our Constitution and its preamble which states, ‘recognising the injustices of the past …’ not to mention several statutes each one promulgated in order to prevent ‘repetitions of the past’.
The decision impacts and affects my case before the Equality Court of South Africa (EC19/2015) brought to defend the report against the vicious and racist attacks by Naspers/Media24 and thus failure to defend the law by the former Min of Justice, Michael Masutha. My not possessing an attorney at state expense as contemplated in the constitution, is a substantial injustice when it comes to the odious task of defending the TRC.
AJ Martin’s sloppy and incompetent decision is nothing less than racist double standards, since I have already been taken to task on a previous occasion during the proceedings of Lewis v Media24 (2010) for my not having ‘read the report’, in particular chapter 4, and thus according to Adv Kahanovitz SC, ‘knew who I was getting involved with when I joined Media24’, a racist organisation at the time, opposed to the TRC.
Kahanovitz SC further claimed that the report was a ‘public record’ to which I could not claim ignorance, at the same time that he claimed the commission was ‘simply a commission’, and the report, ‘simply a report’. AJ Cheadle, who admitted to presiding over a case involving his own client (and thus a judgement written up by the opposing party), then proceeds to state in his 2010 decision at para 98: ‘His evidence is unreliable because he is engaged in a campaign against the Respondent for its support of apartheid and its refusal to apologise for doing so before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.’
Now Martin declaims loudly from the bench that it is okay to simply ignore the report, echoing Kahanovitz SC earlier direction that the report should be ignored when doing so favours his client, but be upheld when it affects my own legal standing.
Not only did AJ Martin refuse to recuse himself from the High Court, Western Cape on Monday 20 May 2019, after this contradiction was pointed out to him, but he has had the audacity to claim his decisions and findings in the matter are somehow obiter (merely in passing), and also “Judges can make mistakes that is what superior courts are for, correcting error.” There also appears to be some confusion here as to whether or not the court has the requisite power to review decisions taken by a ‘national public entity’ and thus other schedule 3 entities such as boxing clubs. Martin then proceeded to deny me leave on the basis.
The determination amounts to an exclusion of the Preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, not to mention the Bill of Rights. The separation of powers is between the judiciary, the executive and the legislature, not the public sphere versus the judiciary and represents a new low so far as the justice system is concerned.
The calumny against the TRC Act is not surprising since the the High Court of the Western Cape still houses portraits of apartheid and colonial era judges. Albert van der Sandt Centlivres for instance, was the Chief Justice of South Africa from 1950 to 1957, and the result is an embarrassing racist rogues line-up, book-ended by a beaming portrait of current Judge President of the Western Cape, John Hlophe. Portraits of Centlivres et al deserve to be in a museum not the chambers of active judicial officers.
I urgently require assistance in filing my documents on appeal in Bloemfontein, failing which an appeal directly to the ConCourt. If I cannot retain an attorney to accomplish this, I will be required to travel to Bloemfontein and/Jozi. I am also required to furnish the SCA/ConCourt judges and parties with the transcripts and records of the proceedings, all of which costs money. Some four hours of transcription is required.
Please assist me in defending the TRC and its Final Report in the matter Lewis v Legal Aid SA CA18417/17. This matter affects similarly-situated individuals and is a major test of the foundation stones of our democracy.
NO TO HIGH COURT APARTHEID
NO TO RACIST DOUBLE-STANDARDS
LAST week the Competition Commission announced that it was investigating 28 media companies, including Media24 for collusion on advertising pricing, and that Caxton and Independent Media had already pleaded guilty and/or had paid fines. The investigation avoids the troubling impact of cartel behaviour already demonstrated and reported here and here.
While some may accuse the CompCom of casting its net too wide, it is most certainly picking low-lying fruit and scratching the surface. One can only hope that its next port of call is to investigate the over-concentration and cross-ownership which is stifling journalists and readers alike.
Cartels and monopolies are not simply bad for business and competition but create the situation where news itself is overly centralised and where public opinion is subject to newsroom censorship. The result is bad for democracy and the outcome, the manufacture and manipulation of public opinion, unacceptable in a constitutional state.
THIS week saw apartheid media firm, Naspers in the news with a fresh scandal, large enough to top any previous peccadillo. The sheer amount of opinion pieces generated by South Africa’s media, and the scale and tone of the inquiry into the press is quite impressive. It marks a turning point insofar as a shady history of decades long immunity from criticism is concerned.
At first, the opposition Democratic Alliance, once staunch allies of the firm, but now in a marriage of convenience with the EFF, sought to buttress growing metro and provincial leadership by exposing what appears to be another influence peddling scandal.
The story was quickly picked up by technology and business sites, Business Tech “R100 million influence” MyBroadband “diabolical and secret R550 million” and Business Live “sabc greasing”, showing some disparity in the figures and eliciting Hlaudi counterspin from IOL and a series of Alec Hogg advertorials on Moneyweb “reports malicious” “Naspers not concerned” and also Business Live “not involved”
That Multichoice is involved in a number of corrupt political deals harks back to the founding of the pay channel company under Naspers director PW Botha. The story is not unique so far as this outlet is concerned.
The company simply moved from state capture under the National Party, to state capture under the ANC. All documented here. Massive pay-offs to those in power with the ability to make decisions, appears to have been the norm. Significant too, are the latest attempts by Naspers subsidiary Media24, itself involved in a variety of scandals, to dodge the broader implications of its boardroom being interwoven with a “corrupt nexus” involving Multichoice, to use former editor of the Weekly Mail and adjunct professor of journalism Anton Harber’s term.
Harber who recently moved from his academic post to eTV, an entity itself involved with Multichoice (via Remgro and Kagiso), a little out of character but unsurprisingly given his recent tenure, appears to have equivocated on the issue by writing what can only be termed a Daily Maverick fluff piece in defence of Naspers, urging the company to face up to the charges while painting a picture of an apartheid firm which miraculously transformed itself.
The piece is unfortunately devoid of facts and appears to ignore my own case against the company, and thus the belated apology issued by CEO Esmerie Weideman. Advertising agency executive Deon Wiggett wasn’t having any of this. The founder and creative director of Fairly Famous, “a progressive advertising agency” didn’t buy the spin doctoring and produced what can be called the best roasting of Koos Bekker in the press yet.
The Naspers board issued a statement, proclaiming their 80% owned child to be autonomous, with their shared directors ring-fenced on paper by the law, while major Naspers shareholder Sanlam issued a similar denial of responsiblity. Bob van Dijk’s “its not our problem” defence in this regard can only be described as bizarre.
US law firm Pomerantz announces it is investigating Naspers on behalf of Paypal investors, for securities fraud.
FIN24, the Naspers-Media24 financial news site has been found guilty on one count of copyright infringement.
The South Gauteng High Court found that Fin24 infringed the copyright of one Moneyweb article in 2013, after copying and republishing a substantial part of an original article, and was ordered to pay damages to Moneyweb.
Judge Daniel Berger did not find similar infringements in six other articles and ordered Moneyweb to pay 70% of Fin24’s costs.
These were the main findings in the copyright infringement case Moneyweb instituted in 2013 against Fin24, after Fin24 copied and republished content from various Moneyweb articles. Moneyweb argued that copyright was infringed in seven articles.
Damages in regard to the infringement have yet to be finalised.
You can read the rest of the Moneyweb side of the story here.
And the extraordinary article published by Fin24 claiming it isn’t guilty at all.