The press ombudsman's panel has ruled that the Mail & Guardian had
breached the South African press code with a story that inaccurately
claimed a businessman and big ANC donor was being investigated for
bribing Telkom, according to a report on iol.co.za.
Robert Gumede brought a complaint against the newspaper after its investigative reporter, Adriaan Basson, wrote last year that police were probing allegations that he had paid Telkom executives to secure a R600-million tender.
The newspaper first reported on the alleged investigation in an article headlined "Major ANC donor in graft probe", which also pointed out that Gumede had given R10-million to the ANC.
Gumede challenged the story, which Basson told the panel in the hearing he had written on the basis of a tip-off from "an impeccable source".
Basson declined to name the source and conceded that he had not checked the facts with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) before running the story.
The panel stated that he only contacted the NPA after receiving Gumede's complaint and waited considerably longer before contacting the police.
"This suggests that Basson worked in reverse – published and only thereafter went to sources he could have placed on record," the panel said.
The panel said if Basson had been more carefully he would have established that the authorities were pressured by Gumede's former business partner, with whom he had fallen out, to reopen the case.
Click here to read the full report, posted on iol.co.za.