Radio stations fined for defamation
Talk Radio 702 and 94.7 Highveld Stereo have each been fined R25,000 for defamation.
Talk Radio 702 and 94.7 Highveld Stereo have each been fined R25,000 for defamation, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA) said on Friday.
The fine followed a complaint by Silvanus Naicker about a story aired in May on the kidnapping and murder of Johannesburg student Leigh Matthews.
The BCCSA said the stations were found guilty of implicating Naicker in the murder "on meagre facts available".
"We do not think that the broadcasters acted with the intention of defaming the complainant," the commission said.
"But in South African law, negligence is sufficient for a finding of defamation by the media. In the result, we hold that the Broadcasting Code has been contravened."
The complaint was brought against Primedia, which owns both radio stations.
The BCCSA said the facts available to the radio stations did not justify their implicating Naicker.
"We have no doubt that the radio stations were negligent in broadcasting the material."
BCCSA said a reasonable broadcaster would not publish such an item with such scanty evidence at its disposal.
Naicker was implicated in the Matthews murder after a source said he was a friend of convicted murderer Donovan Moodley and that they had played volleyball together.
Naicker confirmed that he had played volleyball with Moodley, but said he had nothing to do with the murder.
In their defence, the radio stations said Piet Byleveld, a renowned detective, had told the radio stations that a Silvanus Naicker had been on his list as a possible accomplice at the time.
"But [Byleveld] had not had him prosecuted, since he did not regard phone records as a sufficient source to involve a person in a murder trial," they said.
The radio stations further argued that a member of their team had left a message on Naicker's phone, but that he had not phoned back.
In 2005, Moodley was convicted of kidnapping and murdering 21-year-old Matthews.
In February this year, Moodley went to court claiming there was a conspiracy against him.
He accused State advocate Zaais Van Zyl and Byleveld of creating and manipulating evidence against him.