Press Ombudsman dismisses Gayton McKenzie’s complaint against Sunday Times

The Press Ombudsman has dismissed a complaint by former Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie against two Sunday Times stories published last month.

McKenzie had complained that the stories published on September 10 and 17 contained statements‚ insinuations or allegations that were “fabricated‚ unsubstantiated‚ untrue and malicious” and unfairly compromised his reputation.

On September 10‚ the newspaper reported that President Jacob Zuma had been considering appointing Leanne Williams‚ a former councillor of the Patriotic Alliance.

“Insiders said the fact that Williams’s name landed on Zuma’s desk proved the growing influence ex-convicts Gayton McKenzie and Kenny Kunene have over Zuma‚” the article read.

In the September 10 story‚ the paper reported that McKenzie and businessman Kenny Kunene were widely regarded as the “new Guptas” and have access to Zuma’s official residence.

The article also revealed that the two had travelled to Russia at the same time as State Security Minister David Mahlobo (now Energy Minister) and a delegation from South Africa’s Central Energy Fund to sell themselves to Russian company Rosgeo as possible BEE partners.

McKenzie denied that he had “growing” influence over Zuma and that there was a plan for Williams to join the cabinet.

“Insiders said the fact that Williams’s name landed on Zuma’s desk proved the growing influence ex-convicts Gayton McKenzie and Kenny Kunene have over Zuma‚” the article read.

The Sunday Times said the stories should be read as part of a robust political debate about a number of related matters in which McKenzie plays either a central or peripheral role.

Press Ombud Johan Retief found that both stories were attributed to sources and that the Sunday Times did not report them as facts‚ but allegations.

The stories were also in the public interest‚ Retief found.

“All this means‚ is that allegations were made (by credible sources which‚ indeed‚ does not necessarily mean that their information was correct – hence the need to report the allegations as allegations and not as fact) and that the newspaper was justified in its reportage in this regard.”

By: Nomahlubi Jordaan -TimesLIVE

Source: TMG Digital.

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