An article by IOL receives a GLAD[1] from Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) for withholding the identity of a child involved in a story about a two-year-old child who was allegedly raped.

The article titled, “Help me find justice for my 2-year-old daughter’: father of George Mukhari Hospital rape victim”, (10/07/2020) by Jonisayi Maromo reports a protest that took place outside a George Mukhari hospital where a two-year-old girl was allegedly raped while in isolation for Covid-19. The story also reports that the child’s father wants justice to be served.

In the article, the journalist accesses the father at the protest, who unpacks sensitive details of how he and the child’s mother noticed that the daughter was not herself and also stated how the police dragged their feet to help them when they reported the matter at a police station.

Both the child’s and her father’s identities are protected and for this the journalist has respected the child’s right to privacy and dignity.

The journalist not only protected the identity of the child and her father but went further to state why they cannot name the two. The statement reads, ”The father – who may not be identified, to protect the minor involved…”.

Considering that a case has been opened at the police station, the journalist has adhered to the Criminal Procedure Act Section 154 (3).[2] The Section reads, “No person shall publish in any manner whatever any information which reveals or may reveal the identity of an accused under the age of eighteen years or of a victim or witness at criminal proceedings who is under the age of eighteen years”

In addition, the journalist adhered to Independent Media’s own Press Code which states in Clause 3, “Whenever the identity of a child is disclosed, whether pictorially or in print – 3.1. The statutory restrictions on the naming or identification of children shall be observed and adhered to. 3.2 The interests of the privacy and the reputation of the child shall be considered and, where necessary, protected. 3.3 The permission of the parent or guardian of any child shall be sought in all cases where the identity of the child is to be disclosed. 3.4 Even if the parent or guardian consents to disclosure of identity of a child, Independent Media shall exercise a cautious discretion, if it may be harmful to the child to publish the identity of the child.”

Withholding this child’s identity was not only ethical and in adherence to legal frameworks around reporting on children, but also ensured protection of the child from potential harm such as victimisation.

MMA would like to encourage IOL to continue ethically reporting stories about children. Well done!

By Msizi Mzolo

[1] Every week, MMA highlights cases of good practice, where the media has promoted the rights and welfare of children, they are referred to as “GLADs”