National

M&G vindicated by ombud ruling

Adriaan Basson, Yolandi Groenewald

The press ombudsman has revealed that the M&G was correct in its reporting on a convicted embezzler and a marine farming project.

Press ombudsman Joe Thloloe has confirmed that the Mail & Guardian was correct in revealing that a convicted embezzler is the international business associate of a proposed marine farming project in the Coega industrial development zone.

Thloloe and panellists Ethel Manyaka and Peter Mann ruled last week on a complaint laid by Bosasa Operations, SeaArk Africa and Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson against the M&G that a February 22 report about the SeaArk project was inaccurate.

The M&G reported under the headline ’

The ombudsman found:

  • Bosasa, SeaArk Africa and Watson had three chances to put forward their story on Wills’s history but failed to do so. ‘As an afterthought they now turn to the ombudsman and say the newspaper’s story was defamatory and inaccurate.”
  • The M&G quickly corrected its error that Wills was not sentenced to imprisonment but to community service.
  • To any reader Wills is SeaArk Africa’s ‘international business associate”.
  • Bosasa has had a ‘chequered history” within the normal meaning of the phrase.
  • It is likely that Bosasa is under investigation by the special investigating unit for tender fraud.
In terms of the ombudsman’s complaints procedures either party may apply for leave to appeal the ruling within seven days of receiving it.

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