Durban reporter dismissed after plagiarism scandal

Keeran Sewsunker, the Durban Daily News reporter who was recently exposed as a serial plagiarist, has been fired following a disciplinary hearing.

DITonline, a student news website based at the Durban Institute of Technology, first broke the story on August 27 and the Mail & Guardian Online published another story on September 23.

In his Business Roundup column for the paper—which is part of the Independent group—Sewsunker stole, often word for word, from the United States Entrepreneur magazine’s website.

In a July 26 article, entitled “Research your market on a budget”, Sewsunker “writes”: “Would you shell out R1 000 for a pair of shoes without trying them on? Plunge into a steaming bath without dipping a toe in first? Of course not, but people do the business equivalent every day.”

The Entrepreneur.com article, written by journalist Isabella Trebond, reads: “Would you shell out $200 for a pair of shoes without trying them on? Plunge into a steaming bath without dipping a toe in first? Of course not—but people do the business equivalent every day.”

DITonline reported “Sewsunker was found guilty of gross misconduct for committing acts of plagiarism by lifting material from the internet and presenting it as his own between January and August 2004”, according to the findings of the disciplinary hearing.

Quoting from the findings, DITonline said: “The extent of the plagiarism committed by Mr Sewsunker has exposed the company to business risk and its editorial integrity to severe damage. Publicity around his activities has already cast the company and his newspaper in a bad light.”

Sewsunker refused to speak to DITonline on Tuesday.

The editor of the website, journalism student Reesha Chibba, told the M&G Online in September that she became suspicious after she didn’t see any sources in Sewsunker’s column. She started to investigate on August 23.

“I was curious.
He just didn’t have any. So I Googled one of his articles and saw that the whole thing had been plagiarised. It’s so blatant and sets a stupid example for student journalists,” she told the M&G Online.

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