The Media Monitoring Project has filed a complaint with the Press Ombudsman as well as the Human Rights Commission against tabloid The Sun for supporting the recent outbreak of xenophobic violence in its reporting. In a media statement on the move, the MMP says the paper's constant use of the term alien is discriminatory , and that it has failed to condemn the violence.

The Media Monitoring Project's statement reads:

much speculation about the media’s influence on the recent outbreaks of
xenophobic violence, Daily Sun is now subject of an official complaint
about their coverage of non-nationals. The Media Monitoring Project
(MMP) and its partner Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South
Africa (CoRMSA) submitted a complaint with Press Ombudsman Joe Thloloe
and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHCR) today.

In this complaint, MMP submits that Daily Sun‘s continued use of the
term “aliens” to refer to non national’s is inappropriate and
discriminatory. Furthermore, MMP believes that its reporting has had
the effect of supporting the recent violence by perpetuating
stereotypes of foreign peoples. Such reporting also threatens the
freedom of all media in South Africa, at a time when media freedom has
already suffered various challenges.

The complaint is based on:
* The continued and unjustifiable usage of negative and discriminatory
stereotypes being perpetuated in the Daily Sun’s reporting of non
* The repetitive usage of “alien” logo’s and headlines, such as “Alien terror” and “War on aliens”;
* The biased and limited representation of government and government agencies;
* The failure of the Daily Sun to clearly condemn the violence until most of it had been contained;
* The failure of the Daily Sun to offer any non-violent alternatives,
or additional information to help prevent violence and to condone mob

In addition, the Daily Sun’s has a large market in urban areas with a
demography that is closely aligned with that of the areas where the
violence has taken place.

Because of these above-mentioned reasons, MMP submits that the coverage
of non-nationals by the Daily Sun during this period is not inline with
its responsibility to fair, balanced, accurate and non discriminatory
reporting, contravening several fundamental clauses of the South
African Press Code:

Because Daily Sun is a newspaper that is widely read within the
communities that suffered from the xenophobic violence, MMP believes it
is of vital importance that Daily Sun changes this trend in its
coverage. The complaint therefore recommends the following actions to
be taken by Daily Sun:

* An apology to all its readers, and a front page apology to all non
nationals in South Africa as a first step to moving beyond
discrimination and helping to restore the dignity of those impacted by
the violence;
* The adoption of an editorial position of condemning violence and
actively seek out stories which highlight finding alternative means to
resolving tensions and disputes.
* The adoption of an ethical code which it publicises and invites
participation from its readers in developing. Such a code would need to
include specific clauses aimed at preventing similar stereotypical
reporting in the in the future.
* CoRMSA partners to provide in-depth information and training on
reporting on non-nationals and the issues that affect them, so as to
encourage better understanding and discourage xenophobia and

More information on the procedure of the complaint can be found on the
Press Council’s website:

More information about the Media Monitoring Project can be found on
For more information on the complaint or about the Media Monitoring
Project, contact William Bird; +27 (0)
11 788 1278 /+27 (0) 82 887 1370 or Sandra Roberts, or +27 (0) 11 788 1278 /+27 (0) 84 9000