Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) gives a MAD[1] to Daily Sun for publishing stories that interview and directly or indirectly identify the children involved thereby potentially compromising their safety and/or subjecting them to further trauma.

The first story headlined, “My neighbour stabbed me!” (27/08/2018, p.8) tells of a fight between neighbours in which a 12-year-old girl was injured in “the groin”. The article narrates how a man attacked his neighbours including the 12-year-old whom he stabbed. According to the story, the child who is interviewed in the article, is “scared to walk to the shops”.

MMA advises against interviewing children who have experienced trauma as this subjects them to secondary trauma as they have to relive their ordeal. If in instances where the journalist has to interview the child, this should be done in the presence of a counsellor who would have provided counselling to the child beforehand and advised that the child is fit to be interviewed.

The second article, “Family home petrol bombed” (04/09/2018, p.9) reports that a family’s house was petrol bombed while they were sleeping by unknown people. The article reports that the grandmother of the family and an 11-year-old girl are in hospital with burn wounds. According to the story, no arrests have been made and the family is living in fear as the suspects are not known and might come back to attack them. The article identifies the family members by name and picture. In the accompanying photograph, a child is seen with a bandage on her arm and no effort was made to blur anyone’s face.

He lived by the sword” (05/09/2018, p.6) reports of a deceased 19-year-old teenager whose body was found under a bridge in Orange Farm with stab wounds. The article reports that the young man was behind a string of killings in the township. The journalist interviews three relatives of alleged victims of the deceased, who narrate that their relatives, two of them aged 16 and 17 years, were killed and injured respectively by the 19-year-old and members of his gang. All the interviewed people in the article are named with one of them also being photographed thereby indirectly identifying the children involved.

The indirect identification of children in two of the articles contravenes Section 154(3) of the Criminal Procedure Act which  the Supreme Court of Appeal recently ruled in case 871/2017 (Centre for Child Law and Others vs Media24 Limited and Others) to be read as follows, “No person shall publish in any manner whatever 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.”[2]

By identifying the children who are victims of and witnesses to the crimes, the journalists jeopardised the children’s safety as this places them at risk of being harmed for retribution or as a way to stop them from testifying at criminal proceedings should the perpetrators be charged with the crimes.

MMA calls upon Daily Sun to adhere to both legal and ethical frameworks when reporting on children. We hope that the publication will in future report such stories in a way that protects them from further harm and promotes their best interests.


By Girlie Sibanda and Lister Namumba



[1] MADs refer to stories where the rights and welfare of children have been compromised through irresponsible reporting

[2] See Section 154 (3) of the criminal procedure Act 51 of 1997


The following is the response by Daily Sun to the commentary;

Thanks for making us aware of these.

We certainly do take heed of the highlighted mistakes.

They are surely not intentional – we do work on correcting these and do want to get it right, more over when it comes to reporting on sensitive cases that involve children.

We will keep on working to get better and getting it right.