The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) commends Sunday World Editor in Chief Wally Mbhele for decisive action against assignment editor Aubrey Mothombeni on 19 April 2021.
Mothombeni was fired after a disciplinary process found him guilty of attempting to solicit a one million Rand bribe with the promise of doing away with a story. According to Mbhele they had an audio recording of a meeting Mothombeni attended, where he solicited the bribe.
SANEF applauds Mbhele for declining Mothombeni’s resignation and pushing ahead with the disciplinary process. Soliciting a bribe is the worst ethical lapse by a journalist who by profession is bestowed with an enormous responsibility to tell the South African story without fear or favour.
Mbhele went further and refused to sweep the matter under the carpet but honoured the promise of transparency, accountability and honesty to the Sunday World readers and South African public by writing about it. He was guided by the press code that requires all journalists to not be influenced by political, commercial nor personal considerations when reporting.
We urge all our journalists to uphold their ethical principles at all times. The only thing any journalists has – is their integrity and credibility. That should never be for sale.
Journalism has been under severe scrutiny in the past few years, heightened recently by revelations of journalists being paid by newsmakers and institutions including the State Security Agency. We reiterate our call on the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into allegations of State Capture to divulge the names of the journalists who’ve been paid by SSA. We also call for the identity of the former Johannesburg-based journalist who acted as an intermediary in the attempted transaction.
Mbhele’s decisive action goes a long way in helping redeem our profession and shows that editors will not run away or refuse to confront rogues in our industry. He has since called on all newsmakers who “paid bribes to kill stories” to come forward.
As SANEF we support the call and urge all newsmakers including to come forward and help us clean up the profession. SANEF is holding an Ethics conference next month, as part of reigniting our commitment to cleanse our profession of rogues.
Note to Editors: The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is a non-profit organisation whose members are editors, senior journalists and journalism trainers from all areas of the South African media. We are committed to championing South Africa’s hard-won freedom of expression and promoting quality, ethics and diversity in the South African media. We promote excellence in journalism through fighting for media freedom, writing policy submissions, research and education and training programmes. SANEF is not a union.
For more information please contact:
Sbu Ngalwa – SANEF Chairperson (073) 404-1415
Adriaan Basson – SANEF Deputy Chairperson (082) 562-2113
Mahlatse Mahlase – Secretary General (083) 399-2852
Nwabisa Makunga – Treasurer (082) 555-1972
Mary Papayya – SANEF Media Freedom Chair (082) 379-4957
Asanda Ngoasheng – Western Cape Convenor – 082 610 9374
Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor (082) 571-3334
Katy Katopodis – SANEF Gauteng Convenor (082) 805-7022
Chiara Carter – SANEF Eastern Cape Convenor (082) 659-9162
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director – (082) 926-6404
Email: [email protected] Website: www.sanef.org.za