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Sanef recommends 'Sunday Times' apologises to those named in dodgy stories

A 300-page report was commissioned by Sanef in June 2019 and followed an inquiry into the publication and retraction of a series of reports in the Sunday Times between 2011 and 2016.

file: (From left) Andries Janse van Rensburg, Ivan Pillay and Johan van Loggerenberg in the Pretoria magistrates court on 9 April 2018. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN

CAPE TOWN - A report from the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has on Monday recommended the Sunday Times issue a full and unreserved apology for dodgy articles written in the past.

The 300-page report was commissioned by Sanef in June 2019 and followed an inquiry into the publication and retraction of a series of reports in the Sunday Times between 2011 and 2016.

Journalist Nikiwe Bikitsha was one of the three panellists drawing up the report.

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She said the paper should issue apologies to persons implicated in any wrongdoing in any of the rendition, Cato Manor or Sars series of stories in which the paper acknowledged that they failed in the most basic tenets of journalistic practice.

The panel was led by retired Judge Kathleen Satchwell who said they did not specifically focus on one company but took a far wider approach.

“The issue set out throughout the terms of reference of this inquiry has been ‘what are those challenges, what are those issues which might or might not hinder the media in making a full contribution to South Africa achieving its status as a functioning democracy?’”

The report made 69 recommendations in total and advised Sanef to:

  • Collaborate with other media entities,

  • Encourage constitutional entities, government institutions and individual policymakers to publicly affirm their commitment to an independent media

  • Draw up a Media Freedom Declaration.

Bikitsha said it also recommended the establishment of a Chair in Ethics in Journalism at one of South Africa’s formerly black universities.

“The chair should not be named after the Sunday Times or any holding company but after an investigative journalist of high moral and professional calibre whose media work has contributed to the development and maintenance of our democracy,” she said.

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