Sunday Times apologises to Qunta

Cape Town lawyer Christine Qunta on Monday welcomed the Sunday Times‘s retraction of defamatory statements made by the newspaper against her, saying the apology was proof that the principle of media accountability was being upheld.

Also welcoming an apology and retraction from the Sunday Times was author Ronald Suresh Roberts, who said the conduct of the newspaper had

been “shameful”.

Qunta’s lawyer Athol Gordon said in a statement on Monday: “My client is pleased that the principle of media accountability has been upheld in this instance, following her approach to the Ombudsman.

“The ... apology highlights, in her opinion, the ongoing crisis of internal controls and professional standards in sections of the media as well as the ability of political parties and lobby groups to exploit these weaknesses with malicious intent.”

In its September 30 edition, the Sunday Times published a profile on Qunta headlined So how dangerous is the Queen of Racial Politics? in which it cited her as one of the 12 signatories to a petition supporting President Thabo Mbeki in the HIV/Aids denial debate.

The article also suggested that the SABC deputy chairperson came to President Thabo Mbeki’s defence when he accused leading ANC figures of plotting to topple him.

Qunta, who has recently been under attack from the Treatment Action Campaign and others for her involvement in a company of which one of the directors is accused of selling untested herbs purported to cure HIV Aids, then responded by lodging a compliant with the Ombudsmen, charging that the article was false and defamatory.

“The article is in fact not a profile but an attempt to influence public opinion against me through innuendo, half truths and outright lies,” she said in her complaint to the Ombudsman.

Qunta’s action resulted in the Sunday Times publishing an apology in its October 7 Sunday edition, retracting the defamatory statements made against her.

We ...
retract our statement that she was one of the 12 signatories, including Anthony Brink, Anita Allen, Matthias Rath, David Rasnick, Roberto Giraldo and Ronald Suresh Roberts, who supported President Mbeki at the outset of the Aids debate. We accept that she is not an Aids denialist.” - Sapa

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