‘Moneyweb committed its duty as the Fourth Estate’ – Acting Assistant Press Ombud

Follows numerous complaints Nova’s chairman filed with the Press Ombud.
Image: Moneyweb

Over the past few months, the Nova Property Group has waged a war against Moneyweb.

Nova, through its chairman Connie Myburgh, lodged six main complaints, consisting of numerous sub-complaints, with the Press Ombud regarding various articles written by Moneyweb editor Ryk van Niekerk and journalist Roy Cokayne.

The rulings on the complaints and the articles the complaints pertain to, appear below:

Complaint 7792: Irba reports Nova to Sars and CIPC
Complaint 7795: ‘Where is Hans Klopper?’
Complaint 7804Seven reasons Orthotouch’s dismal failure must be investigated
Complaint 7828: Covid-19 halts Sharemax auditors’ disciplinary
Complaint 7829: Three former Sharemax auditors, 413 improper conduct charges
Complaint 7830: Nova: Insolvent, or in a sound financial position?

Acting Assistant Press Ombud Johan Retief dismissed all but one of the complaints and wrote in a special addendum to his ruling that Moneyweb should be “congratulated on its fair and balanced reportage”.

The only adverse ruling against Moneyweb was a tier 2 offence for stating in a subheadline of the article ‘Irba reports Nova to Sars and CIPC’ as fact that the Nova group would be investigated by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) and the South African Revenue Service (Sars). The article was changed to reflect that Nova may be the subject of an investigation by the CIPC and Sars. Moneyweb also published an apology for this oversight.

Moneyweb editor Ryk van Niekerk. Image: Moneyweb

‘Insulting language, and deeply insulting’

The process took several months, with the filing of lengthy documents and responses by both parties.

The adjudication process was partly delayed by Retief’s decision to reject all Myburgh’s complaints due to the “unacceptable language” he used in his submissions and the launching of “personal attacks” on Van Niekerk’s integrity. “In my opinion, sir, your complaints are deeply insulting (to say the least) – to such an extent, that I believe the Complaints Procedures do not allow me to entertain them,” Retief wrote in his letter to Myburgh informing him of the rejection decision.

However, Myburgh appealed against this decision and Judge Bernard Ngoepe, chairman of the Appeals Panel, ruled that Nova and Myburgh should be allowed to resubmit their submissions in “acceptable language”, which they subsequently did.

Retief then proceeded to adjudicate and dismiss all the complaints, barring the offence related to the subheadline referred to above.

Myburgh and Nova then applied for leave to appeal, but this was denied by Judge Ngoepe.

Moneyweb journalist Roy Cokayne. Image: Supplied

Memorandum

In a rare act, Retief wrote a special addendum related to his judgments in which he provided some perspective on the case.

In this addendum, he refers extensively to Myburgh’s use of language. “Myburgh’s insulting language, ad infinitum, aimed at the editor, is regrettable,” he wrote. “I want to repeat what I have said all along: His criticism of Van Niekerk has crossed the border – not only was it aimed at his reportage, but he also attacked the editor’s character. For this reason, I initially declined to adjudicate his complaints.

“There comes a time when the office of the SA Press Council not only has to protect the public from the media, but also protect the media from the public. This was such a time.”

Retief also commended Moneyweb for continuously trying to get comment from Orthotouch, Nova and other parties despite rarely receiving a reply. “I have previously, in a different context, referred to the danger of a 007-syndrome on the part of the media. Some journalists seem to think they have a ‘licence to kill’ once they have identified who they believe is a dubious subject – and in that process throw some or all journalistic standards and ethical norms overboard. Then, anything goes. To its credit, Moneyweb has resisted this temptation.”

Retief also wrote that he “cannot agree with Myburgh’s consistent allegation that the editor of Moneyweb was malicious”.

“(He repeatedly alleges ‘utmost malice, to create maximum damage’ on the editor’s part.)

“The word ‘malice’ implies a deliberate attempt to cause someone harm. Indeed, Merriam-Webster defines malice as, ‘the desire to inflict injury, harm, or suffering on another, either because of a hostile impulse or out of deep-seated meanness’. Given the reasonableness of the reporting, throughout, and consistently having based it on credible evidence, I have no reason whatsoever to declare malice on the editor’s part, or on the part of his publication. On the contrary, I see a publication committed to its duty as the Fourth Estate.

“In the end, Moneyweb needs to be congratulated on its fair and balanced reportage, and to be encouraged in its efforts to continue holding public figures accountable to society – which is the reason for the existence of the media in the first place.”

BCCSA complaint

In February this year Myburgh also lodged a complaint with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BBCSA) regarding comments Van Niekerk made during a 2014 RSG Geldsake broadcast.

Listen to the broadcast here.

Prior to the hearing, Myburgh requested that no media, including Van Niekerk, be allowed to attend the hearing. The BCCSA rejected this request. Myburgh also refused to answer any questions from Van Niekerk during the virtual hearing.

The BCCSA Tribunal found that the broadcast consisted of comments that were honest expressions of opinion made on facts truly stated or fairly indicated. No contravention of the code was found, and the complaint was dismissed.

COMMENTS   16

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Congratulations Ryk and Roy! Keep shining the spotlight of honest enquiry on Nova’s doings.

Well done Ryk and the Moneyweb team.

Well Done Moneyweb! Well done Ryk and Roy! Well done over the years for the information provided. Now where is the NPA! I think there is a great case for this scam to be investigated, prosecuted and all found guilty to be locked up for a few decades.

Well done, I think many readers are following this saga- and will continue to do so until the end, this sham need to get in to a court as soon as possible, it has been far too long. Congrats to the fearless journos covering this

Congratulations Moneyweb. You guys are super.

Good one to the MoneyWeb Team, keep it up.

So Nova lodged six main complaints, consisting of numerous sub-complaints, and MoneyWeb had to print one small adjustment on one of them and had to also apologise. Be fair Press Ombud Office – Nova should print an apology for each of the complaints (and sub-complaints) that they got wrong. The allegations of breaches made by MoneyWeb were not only construed out of thin air but many of them were downright insulting. What’s good for the goose and all that.

Now, let’s see if Ryk and his Team can dig deeper into the Mirror Trading International (MTI) issues. MTI are bleating way too much, just like Nova has been and that has to be signal to dig deeper.

Agree 100% MTI needs a proper investigation as does Karatbars, absolute rubbish, “invest in gold” buy our home made plastic cards with some gold leaf superglued to it – absolute nonsense.

Eina. This is surely the biggest humiliation Mr Myburgh, who regards himself as an experienced corporate lawyer, has suffered in his career.
I also wonder whether Mr Myburgh charged the legal fees to Nova? Nova debenture holders should not pay this bill.
Well done, Moneyweb.

Well done Ryk – hulle moet maar nou gaan (k)ak in die mielies, dink ek!

You see, not all crooks use the Cash-in-Transit robbery method *lol*

Kudos to Moneyweb’s level of professional, investigative journalism.

The pin is halfway out of the grenade. Let the explosion begin.NPA wake up and take control. The Hawks had there independant power restored. LET THE FLOW OF FUNDS INVESTIGATIONS COMMENCE!!! Zephan/Bosman Visser/Ortotouch with Novus/Sharemax are fish of the same pond. Moneyweb has made more than enough detail available….cake on a platter WHAT IS THE DELAY?????

Congrats to Ryk & the Moneyweb team.

How about this extract from the Retief-Addendum:
“3.3 It is to Moneyweb’s credit that it has relentlessly tried to get comment from the subjects – even though it was clear that no comment was forthcoming. Many media institutions just give up and publish without giving such a subject a right of reply. Moneyweb did not fall into that trap – this, despite sentences such as, “Orthotouch took the correct view to ignore Mr van Niekerk, as it occurred to it that to respond to Mr van Niekerk serves no purpose, as he will not report anything that is correct and fair, and that, to reply, only gives another platform to Mr van Niekerk to write yet another malicious, incorrect, negative, damaging and defamatory article” (I rest my case.);”

Ouch!

Well done Ryk, Roy and Team. This is great, keep it up ! And thank you for your hard work to expose these people for what they are. But why oh why, it is Connie Myburgh who should apologize to you! Why did Johan Retief not include that in his special addendum that Myburgh should apologize to you for his abusive and personal attacks on your integrity.
I also agree with Mike Schussler, where is the NPA and I want to add, where is FIC, IRBA, CIPC, SARS and other state organisations. It is very clear that every aspect of the Company’s Act and Income Tax Act has been contravened.

“The man doth protest too much, methinks”… What a waste of time and money! Anyway., hopefully Mr Connie Myburgh realises a few things now!

Congratulations Ryk, Roy and Moneyweb Team, please keep up with the sterling work that you do!!!

“A lawyer with a briefcase can steal more than a thousand men with guns.”

― Mario Puzo, The Godfather

End of comments.

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