Naming a rape accused: Has the press code changed?

Rape allegations against African National Congress (ANC) acting spokesperson Zizi Kodwa have sparked a debate amongst the media on when to name an accused, especially when criminal charges have not been laid.

READ: ANCWL Young Women's Desk calls for Zizi Kodwa to step down

An opinion piece in the Daily Maverick by Stephen Grootes suggests that the press code was changed last year to allow for a high-profile person to be named if it was in the public interest.

Siki Mgabadeli, standing in for Joanne Joseph, spoke to Prof Franz Kruger to unpack this.

I think Stephen Grootes is wrong in his column to suggest that there was a change in 2018 to allow for this kind of coverage. In fact, it is the criminal law that needs to be looked at.

Prof Franz Kruger, Adjunct Professor, head of Wits Journalism and director of the Wits Radio Academy

As far as the press code itself is concerned, there are provisions there that deal with privacy, dignity and reputation and that essentially say that the media should exercise care and consideration in matters involving the private lives of individuals, but it also says the right to privacy may be overridden by a public interest, so from an ethical point of view, that is a call that journalists have to make.

Prof Franz Kruger - Adjunct Professor, head of Wits Journalism and director of the Wits Radio Academy

The real question is, is this in the public interest and is it sufficient to override the damaging effects that clearly do arise. Some people in the public eye, of the stature of Zizi Kodwa, there is significant public interest.

Prof Franz Kruger - Adjunct Professor, head of Wits Journalism and director of the Wits Radio Academy

Click on the link below to hear more from Kruger....


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