Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) gives Daily News and Daily Sun a MAD[1] for articles indirectly identifying children, including a child who witnessed the killing of her mother.

The Daily News article titled, Police hunt for man who allegedly shot and killed the mother of his 3 children and her sister” (12/09/2022) reports on a man who killed the mother of his three children and her sister in full view of their 10-year-old child. According to the article which quotes a sibling to the deceased as relayed to her by the 10-year-old witness, the man entered the victims’ house through the door and shot dead both victims in the presence of his 10-year-old child.

 It is very unfortunate that the journalist indirectly identifies the child witness by naming their deceased mother and naming the suspect who is the child’s father. The fact that police are still looking for the suspect who is at large should have made the journalist more cautious about identifying the child. Such conduct by the journalist could subject the child to further harm especially that the article reports that a threatening message has been sent to the family stating that a mother “would be killed and the children would be killed last”. This threat against the children should have made the journalist more cautious to not identify the child who witnessed the murder. By doing this, the journalist potentially subjected the child to harm such as being targeted to keep them from testifying or from participating in any criminal proceedings.

Identifying children under such circumstances infringes the Criminal Procedure Act Section 154(3)[2] which states, “No person shall publish in any manner whenever any information which reveals or may reveal the identity of an accused under the age of 18 years or of a victim or of a witness at criminal proceedings who is under the age of 18 years.”

The Daily Sun article titled, Mum’s child death ‘lie’” (09/09/2022) reports on a woman and mother of a 14-year-old who lied to the court that her child was dead. According to the story, the mother who is a co-accused in a series of crimes including murder told the court that her 14-year-old daughter was stabbed to death on her way to school. As a result, the judge recused her from attending the trial and even went as far as asking the court to make donations to assist with the burial of the child. The story further reports that after an investigation, it was discovered that the woman had lied about the death of the child and that she was alive. The mother is identified in the story thereby indirectly identifying the child.

MMA condemns the indirect identification of the child as she might be subjected to victimisation. As a potential witness in criminal proceedings against the mother for lying to the court should they be instituted, the journalist should have exercised caution and not identified the child through her mother.

By indirectly identifying this child, Daily Sun has gone against the Press Code of Ethics and Conduct for South Africa Print and Online Media.[3] Clause 8.1 of the Press Code explicitly urges the media to “exercise exceptional care and consideration when reporting about children.” The Section of the Code further states that, “If there is any chance that coverage might cause harm of any kind to a child, he or she shall not be interviewed, photographed, or identified without a consent of a legal guardian of, or a similarly responsible adult and the child and also public interest is evident.”

MMA’s studies about children’s rights in the media reveal that the media violates the children’s right to protection in coverage. According to results from the 2021 media monitoring exercise,[4] 2% of stories clearly violated children’s rights.

We are kindly requesting that Daily News withdraws the identities of the deceased mother and the accused father, and for Daily Sun to also withdraw the identity of the accused mother in its story. The journalists should instead use pseudonyms to protect the identities of the two children.

We look forward to reporting on children that sufficiently protects the identities of children and minimises harm to the children involved.

Written by Jacques Ndong

Edited by Lister Namumba

[1] A MAD is given to media who irresponsibly report on children


[3] The Press Ombudsman (