INDEPENDENT MEDIA LAUNCHES OMBUDSMAN OFFICE

PRESS RELEASE

Independent Media today launched its internal Office of the Ombudsman along with a fully constituted adjudication and appeals panel in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town.

The formal launch of the Office of the Ombudsman follows the adoption of Independent Media’s Press Code, which took place after months of robust engagement and development.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Iqbal Survé, Executive Chairman of Independent Media, said the group remains totally committed to the self-regulation of the media and is vehemently opposed to any state regulation of the media.

“We are completely and utterly opposed to a media tribunal in South Africa.  We will not support the involvement of the state in the media. Our need for freedom is important and this must be cherished. Our withdrawal from the Press Council and the appointed of our internal Press Ombud should not be construed as support for a tribunal. It is unnecessary and undemocratic and goes against our Constitution”, said Dr Survé.

He said that the media can regulate itself provided it has the correct calibre of people which we can be seen from the constitution of Independent Media’s Press Ombud Office and Adjudication and Appeals panels.

The Adjudication Panels will be chaired by Independent Media’s Group Ombudsman Jovial Rantao, who was appointed into this position in October last year.  Rantao is one of the most experienced editors in South Africa. He is the chairperson of The African Editors Forum and the Southern African Editors Forum.  The Appeals Panel will be chaired by retired Constitutional Court Judge, Zak Yacoob, a respected jurist, human rights lawyer and judge recognised all over the world for his legal acumen and experience.

Rantao said the publication of the Code was an important moment in the history of Independent Media, one of the major pillars of media in South Africa. “This is the editorial bible for all our journalists and is our pledge to our readers and the general public, to uphold the highest standards of journalism. We will hold editors and journalists in all our titles accountable on behalf of the public. We will act without fear or favour,” Rantao said.

Independent Media’s Press Code was developed after engagement with the Press Council on various matters and, in particular, the reintroduction of the waiver clause, ended in an impasse. The removal of the waiver by the Press Council had the unintended consequences of involving Independent Media and other media houses in potential excessively costly litigation. The Independent Media Press Code addresses this anomaly.

Rantao highlighted three major differences between Independent Media’s Press Code and that followed by the Press Council:

  • No complaint shall be accepted unless the complainant or the person affected by the publication has waived his or her rights to institute an action or application in any court or any other tribunal.  The waiver shall be unequivocal and in accordance with a prescribed form that the complainant would be required to fill in;
  • any person other than a natural person, a registered non-profit organisation or a Public Benefit Organisation, shall pay a refundable deposit of R5 000 before the complaint will be considered. The deposit will only become payable if no settlement is reached.  If the complaint is upheld substantially, the deposit will be refunded to the complainant; and
  • the complaint will be referred to the regional editor who will attempt to broker a solution or settlement within 14 days. The regional editor will only entertain the complaint if the complainant has submitted full particulars as well as a copy of the offending article; identified reasons for the complaints; identified which rights have been breached and what, if any, harm has been suffered as a consequence of the publication. If there is no settlement, the regional editor would then advise the complainant to approach the Independent Press Ombudsman and outline the procedure to be followed. The Independent Media Press Ombudsman will decide if a ruling can be passed based on the documents submitted by the complainant and the editor or whether a hearing should be held.

Following a nationwide public call for participation, Independent Media also announced the members of its Adjudication and Appeals panels.

ADJUDICATION PANEL

CHAIRPERSON: JOVIAL RANTAO

REGIONMEDIA REPRESENTATIVEPUBLIC REPRESENTATIVE
KZNBrijlall Ramguthee

 

Michael Celumusa Buthelezi

 

GAUTENGProf. William GumedeAdvocate Nthabiseng Mokoena
WESTERN CAPERyland FisherPaul Gregory Esselaar

 

APPEALS PANEL

CHAIRPERSON: JUDGE Z. YACOOB

REGIONMEDIA REPRESENTATIVEPUBLIC REPRESENTATIVE
KZNDennis Pather

 

Fortunate Ngcongo
GAUTENGRich Mkhondo

 

Lloyd Mogotsi

 

WESTERN CAPEMansoor JafferRonald Bernickow

Dr Survé encouraged the millions of South Africans who read Independent’s titles to make use of the Office of the Independent Media Press Ombud for resolution of their concerns.

To view the Press Code go to http://www.iol.co.za/press-code

Complaints can also be directed to: complaints@inl.co.za

NEW EDITORIAL APPOINTMENTS ALIGNED WITH TRANSFORMATION OBJECTIVES OF INDEPENDENT MEDIA

PRESS RELEASE

Independent Media is proud to announce two new editorial appointments as part of its ongoing revitalisation and transformation of its newsrooms.

Veteran journalist Steve Motale, 52, has returned to Independent Media, to take over the editorship of The Sunday Independent. Motale is a former executive editor of the Pretoria News, which is part of the Independent Media stable. Motale left Independent just prior to Sekunjalo’s acquisition of Independent Media was consolidated, as he was headhunted by The Citizen to become its editor. He went on to edit The Citizen for three years.

Executive Chairman of Independent Media, Dr Iqbal Survé said that Motale has come back home to Independent.

“His appointment is aligned with our approach to transformation at senior editorial and executive level and supports our objective of pursuing black excellence in the media space. Mr Motale brings great diversity to our Gauteng publications where our readers can find contested views and opinions in our various titles including The Star, Sunday Independent, Saturday Star, Pretoria News and Isolezwe (Gauteng), as well as African Independent.

We are proud that our group emphasises a diversity of opinions, accuracy in reporting and fairness and has taken a non-partisan approach to political issues in the country. Independent’s titles as a whole are showing an increase in circulation and this can be attributed to readers increasingly trusting our balanced and diversified editorial viewpoints. Mr Motale’s appointment strengthens that diversity in our editorial appointments with our 24 titles and over 10 million daily readers online and in print.

I am pleased to welcome Steve back home.  I have every confidence in his ability to grow Sunday Independent’s niche readership base – both in print and online.  I wish him success with this exciting new challenge.”

Born and bred in the Free State, Motale matriculated in Kroonstad and qualified as a high school teacher, spending 16 years in the classroom before moving to journalism on a local community paper in Klerksdorp. Over and above qualifications in teaching and communication, Motale is a graduate of Wits University’s Management Advancement Programme. He is married with two children.

“It feels like a homecoming,” he said, “I’m very excited about the opportunity. The Sunday Independent is an iconic brand with huge potential and I look forward to taking it to where it belongs.”

Krisendra “Krissy” Bissety, has been promoted to the position of Editor of Post, Independent Media’s niche weekly publication for the Indian community in Kwazulu-Natal.

Bissety is a seasoned journalist who has spent 15 years in various roles at Independent titles, most recently as acting editor of the Post since November 2016.  In this position, Bissety is helping to steer the 62-year-old title into a national publication, circulating in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Western Cape.

“I am greatly honoured to be given this opportunity to enhance the Post’s status as South Africa’s number one news brand around the Indian cultural identity. We want to showcase the successes of this community, cover its trials and tribulations, help preserve its heritage and culture and build bridges with other communities,” said Bissety.

He added that he is fully committed to executive chairman Dr Iqbal Survé’s vision, and Independent’s mission, to lead the new media revolution.

“Steve and Krissy are both respected journalists who work with integrity and flair.  I have no doubt that their contribution to the quality of their publications will enhance the experience of both its readers and advertisers. I wish them and their respective teams every success,” said Dr Survé. 

Children in South Africa part of the decision Blind Child Rights Hero honoured by millions of children for his work

Today it was revealed that Manuel Rodrigues, a blind child rights activist from Guinea-Bissau, has been selected to receive the child rights award, The World’s Children’s Prize (WCP), often called the ‘Children’s Nobel Prize’ by the global media. This is the result of the Global Vote, by millions of children around the world. Manuel was honoured in recognition of his work for children with disabilities, who face being kept hidden or abandoned to die.

Since the launch in 2000, a total of 40,6 million children have participated in the World’s Children’s Prize programme, the world’s largest annual educational initiative for children on rights and democracy.

Two other child rights activists, 90-year-old Rosi Gollmann, from Germany, and Molly Melching, from the USA and Senegal, are also being honoured today. Rosi Gollman’s work includes rescuing tens of thousands of girls in India from being killed at birth, and Molly Melching has led pioneering initiatives to tackle female genital cutting and child marriage in West Africa. Both receive the World’s Children’s Honorary Award.

Previous prize laureates include the children’s Decade Child Rights Heroes Graça Machel and Nelson Mandela, Ann Skelton, Hector Pieterson and Nkosi Johnson (the latter two, posthumously).

 Today, Åsa Regnér, Sweden’s Minister for Children, became a new patron. Others who have shown their support for the WCP by becoming patrons include the late Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, Desmond Tutu, H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden, and Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven.

In Guinea-Bissau, it is hard for children with disabilities to go to school. Many have been kept hidden away, or abandoned to die. Through Manuel’s work, however, both attitudes and legislation are changing rapidly, so that children with different abilities can grow up in safety, attend school, and have a good life.

Manuel was one of the three nominees for the award, nominated by a child jury whose members are experts on the rights of the child, through their own life experiences as refugees, slaves and soldiers, amongst others.

Prize laureates honoured in Sweden

All three nominees for the award were honoured at a ceremony today at Gripsholm Castle, in Mariefred, Sweden, where children from 15 countries were assisted by H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden in presenting the prizes. The prize money, totalling SEK 700,000, is split between this year’s child rights hero (SEK 350,000) and the two honorary award laureates (SEK 175,000 each) and is to go towards the prize laureates’ work with children.

Abatsha, a young band from Cape Town, South Africa, played at the WCP Ceremony. Five of the band members are pupils at Chris Hani Secondary School in Khayelitsha, where the World’s Children’s Prize programme is implemented annually, and where the band members and other pupils are trained as WCP Child Rights Ambassadors. Band members are: Simbongile Sam, Zintle Kati, Aerin Van den Bergh, Deaviah Moodley, Vuyisani Mkwambi, Athenkosi Halu, Bonga Hatana and Clayton Seas.

 More info and press photos at worldschildrensprize.org/media

 Empowering vulnerable children

The majority of the millions of children who participate in the programme live in countries affected by poverty and conflict, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and Zimbabwe. Through the WCP programme, they have learned that they have rights and have been able to make their voices heard, many for the first time.

The WCP is supported by almost 70,000 schools in 115 countries, and by over 750 organisations, institutions and departments of education. Since the launch of the programme, half a million teachers have been trained to teach their pupils about children’s rights and democracy in their schools.

Global legends as patrons

Many public figures have shown their support for the WCP by becoming patrons, including the late Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, Desmond Tutu, H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden, and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Today, the Swedish Minister for Children, Åsa Regnér, became a new patron. South African patrons also include the late Ahmed Kathrada, Dr Iqbal Survé and the singer, Vusi ‘The Voice’ Mahlasela.

We are behind the World’s Children’s Prize
The World’s Children’s Prize Foundation (WCPF) is supported by donors including the Swedish Postcode Lottery, Sida (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency), Forum Syd, Julia & Hans Rausing Trust, Care about the Children (H.M. Queen Silvia’s foundation) and the Survé Family Foundation (part of Survé Philanthropies).

Contact in South Africa

Marlene Winberg: marlene.winberg@worldschildrensprize.org Tel. 083 392 5153

Contact in Sweden
Carmilla Floyd: carmilla.floyd@worldschildrensprize.org Tel. +46-709-507407

Magnus Bergmar: magnus.bergmar@worldschildrensprize.org Tel. +46-705-155839

More information and press images at worldschildrensprize.org/media-room