PRETORIA – The Acting National Head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata is shocked and dismayed after the Saturday Dispatch ran a front page article on Saturday July 15, titled, “Hawks boss in Sex Scandal.”
The newspaper article which quoted two Hawks senior managers has not only embarrassed the organization but also attempted to humiliate and damage the integrity of two alleged sexual harassment victims.
Deplorably, the victims’ identities were carelessly splashed across the newspaper without their consent; undermining their right to privacy, their personal safety and endeavouring to misdirect the internal investigation which has already commenced.
Lieutenant General Matakata said violence against women constitutes a violation of basic human rights and is an obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of equality and development. Dealing with the victims of sexual harassment, the media should take ownership of their responsibility while dealing with such sensitive cases. Most victims undergo enormous mental and emotional burden, the insensitivity by the media while reporting their case can damage the state of the victim.
Lieutenant General Matakata said the media must maintain a balance and take special care while reporting any case of sexual harassment in the society irrespective whether it is of public interest.
The need for the Saturday Dispatch accountability and professionalism in reporting cannot be emphasized enough. The freedom of the media, like any other freedom recognized under the constitution has to be exercised within sensible boundaries.
“With great power comes great responsibility as embodied in the Code of Ethics and Conduct for South African Print and Online Media. Section 5 subsection 5.2, states – that the media has the right and indeed the duty to report and comment on all matters of legitimate public interest. This right and duty must, however, be balanced against the obligation not to publish material that amounts to propaganda for war, incitement of imminent violence, or advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm,” she said.
Lieutenant General Matakata also placed on record that the opinions and views raised in the newspaper article did not represent the principles of the DPCI.
“The way the report was constructed has indirectly attributed blame. The Daily Dispatch must apologize to the victims for humiliating and putting their personal safety at risk. As management we are accountable to our members and we are committed to afford them whatever assistance they require. We are also keen to see to it that the internal investigations continue without any influence of any kind,” she concluded.