|Case No - 14 - 2011 - SABC3 and SAFM - News|
The BCCSA Tribunal held that SABC3 contravened the Broadcasting Code during a news programme that it broadcast at 19:00 on 3 November 2010. The judgment is available on the BCCSA website: bccsa.co.za. During the news broadcast, businessman Mr. Robert Gumede was granted air time. He made certain accusations of bribery against journalist Mr. Sam Sole (currently in the service of the Mail & Guardian). SABC3 failed, according to the Tribunal, to ensure that each of the accusations of bribery was addressed in the reported reply by the editor of the Mail & Guardian. In addition to this, an accusation of racial bias made by Mr. Gumede against the Mail & Guardian was not addressed in the reply, as broadcast. SABC3 was, accordingly, directed by the Tribunal to publish a summary of the judgment during the news programme at 19:00 on Wednesday 30 March 2011. The SABC applied for leave to appeal from the Chairperson. The Chairperson held as follows: It is clear that the reply, as put forward by SABC3 itself in its news programme, was that the bribe was denied. Related to this, it was stated that it had been for an air ticket and that it had been repaid. Firstly: this reply, as reported by the SABC itself, was ambiguous. The mere repayment of a bribe would not cancel the fact of a bribe if it had been a bribe. A bribe remains a bribe, even if it is repaid. The reply, as put forward on air by the SABC reporter, was, accordingly, insufficient in countering the accusation of a bribe. Secondly the reply only attempted to address one bribe, whilst Mr. Gumede had also referred to “other payments” – the implication being that there had also been other bribes. If the latter had indeed been the case, the SABC should have informed the Tribunal why it broadcast this accusation by Robert Gumede without substantiating evidence. There was a duty, in contrast to an onus, on the SABC, to provide evidence in this regard. Thirdly the accusation of racial bias made by Mr. Gumede was a serious one. Thus, it should also have been countered in the reply. The Chairperson came to the conclusion that it was unlikely that the Appeal Tribunal would come to a conclusion different from the conclusion reached by the first Tribunal. In the result the Chairperson dismissed the application for leave to appeal. See the reformulation of the order in a footnote at the end of the judgment.