The New Age on Friday apologised for an article it published on Thursday headlined “No need to punish Hlaudi”.
At the time, the SA Press Association (Sapa) reported on the main points of The New Age story and this report was subsequently used by a number of other media houses.
On Friday, The New Age corrected its report on page two headlined “Matter of Fact: The New Age sets the record straight”.
“The introductory paragraph to a story on Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the chief operating officer of the SABC, published in yesterday’s The New Age could have been misinterpreted and erroneously attributed to the chairperson of the board Ellen Tshabalala.
“It said Motsoeneng could not be punished ‘for a lie he told 19 years ago’. Tshabalala was, in fact, responding and rebutting a claim made by the Democratic Alliance that Motsoeneng had lied about his matric qualification when he applied for a job at the broadcaster 19 years ago.
“In her responding affidavit to the Cape High Court, Tshabalala said: “Furthermore, according to the applicant [the DA], Mr Motsoeneng misled the SABC, to its knowledge as far back as 1995 when he was first employed.
“An extract from Mr Motsoeneng’s interview by the public protector, a copy of which I refer to and attach below, shows that the SABC was always aware that Mr Motsoeneng did not have matric, and knew this when it disciplined and dismissed him for other reasons in 2007 and when it later upheld his appeal against his dismissal and re-engaged him.
“These being the facts, which the applicants is constrained to accept, then a significantly long period of time has passed in which the SABC failed to discipline Mr Motsoeneng for any alleged dishonesty, which is in any event denied.
“The law requires disciplinary action to be taken fairly expeditiously, failing which it would become unfair to discipline an employee.
“Mr Motsoeneng circumstances would make any disciplinary action regarding the issue of his matric manifestly unfair at this stage,” reads The New Age apology.
Sapa editor Mark van der Velden said the agency lifted the main points of The New Age’s original report in good faith on the basis that the information published was in the public interest.
Sapa regrets the inconvenience caused.