TimesLIVE jeopardises child’s safety.

Gender-based violence (GBV) poses a prevalent and far-reaching challenge in South Africa, exerting its influence across various spheres of life. With a particular emphasis on women and girls, GBV manifests as a systemic issue deeply ingrained within South African institutions, cultures, and traditions. In order to address the pervasive issue of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in our country, it is imperative for the media to transcend the boundaries of conventional reporting. Rather than solely focusing on court cases or incidents involving rape or murder, the media should exhibit creativity and a sense of urgency by shedding light on GBV even in cases where high-profile incidents have not been reported to the police.[1]

Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is concerned that TimesLIVE revealed the identity of a vulnerable child, who was threated to be killed by their father subjecting her to further victimisation and harm. Because the publication failed to protect the identity of the child, MMA gives TimesLIVE a MAD.[2]  The article titled, “KZN man who allegedly shot his wife 12 times on Mother’s Day eve denied bail” (15/06/2023) reports on, A KwaZulu-Natal man who allegedly shot his estranged wife 12 times in Ashburton and threatened to kill their four-year-old daughter was denied bail by the Pietermaritzburg magistrate’s court. The perpetrator appeared before magistrate Nitesh Binnesarie for the murder of the mother of the potential victim. In the article, the journalist identifies the victim’s relative whom the suspect murdered, therefore indirectly identifying the child.

 Identifying children who are involved in crime related stories is unethical and is highly irresponsible reporting by media. This subjects the child into more harm and victimization. It is not in the best interest of the child to reveal their identity, MMA maintains that it takes precedence finding ways to make sure that people see that children have agency, they deserve respect and privacy[3]. This rings true for the child in the article, particularly after such a traumatic experience.

Indirectly identifying the child disregards Criminal Procedure Amendment Act for 2021, that was signed into law in February 2022 states that 1. Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977, is amended by the substitution for subsection (3) of the following subsection: ‘‘(3) (a) No person shall before, during or at any stage after the conclusion of criminal proceedings, in any manner, including on any social media or electronic platform publish any information which reveals or may reveal the identity”[4].

Media has a responsibility to adhere to the rights of children when reporting on issues that affect them. MMA urges both TimesLIVE to withdraw identities of both parents of the victim as they fail to protect the rights of the child involved in the story. It is a violation of the child’s right as well as privacy and dignity. We commend the media for including children and stories that involve them when reporting, then again, the journalist needs to take careful consideration when dealing with children and making sure that children are not compromised in any way when reporting on issues involving them. Media can use pseudonym to protect the identity of the victim. TimesLIVE can use this opportunity to explain to readers on the importance of withholding identities when reporting on children who have been involved in traumatic incidents and issues such as the ones already mentioned.

We look forward to reading better informed reports on issues involving children.

Written by Ntombifuthi Kubeka

[1] https://mediamonitoringafrica.org/wordpress22/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Lens-on-Gender-Based-Violence-Report.pdf

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

[3] Moti Brothers I How the media should report on the brothers’ story: William Bird – YouTube

[4] Act_No_16_of_2021_Criminal_Procedure_Amendment_Act_2021.pdf (pmg.org.za)