Dasnois vindicated: this time the headline is true.
Alide Dasnois was removed from her position of editor of the Cape Times by the new chief executive of the Independent Newspapers, Iqbal Surve, on 6 December 2013 at a meeting in Claremont. She was fired from the company five months later, following a disciplinary hearing which found her guilty of misconduct, incompatibility and incapacity. She was ostensibly fired for publishing the news of Nelson Mandela’s death in a wrap around of the Cape Times, and not the front page.
In a landmark settlement of the case Dasnois brought against Independent Newspapers, the newspaper group conceded that it was Dasnois’ prerogative as editor to decide how to publish the news of the death of Madiba. They also acknowledged that Alide Dasnois was not motivated by racism, and that they (Independent Newspapers) retracted all allegations of racism made against her.
After informing a court that Independent News agreed to end the dispute with Dasnois, they immediately recanted with a view to painting a picture of themselves as being vigorously opposed to any settlement and then being “vindicated” in court - when no such thing had happened. The Code for members of the Press Council provides that allowing commercial, political, personal or other non-professional considerations to influence or slant reporting constitutes serious misconduct on the part of a news group and Alide Dasnois lodged a complaint with the Press Ombudsman.
The Press Ombudsman has now required the Cape Times to apologise to Alide Dasnois for stating as fact in its headline that Independent Newspapers had been vindicated.
ODAC welcomes this decision, as well as the direction that the Cape Times, the Diamond Fields Advertiser and The Star must apologise to Dasnois for omitting to state in their coverage of the settlement that the agreement entailed that Independent Newspapers withdrew all allegations of racism against Dasnois, that she never intended to show disrespect for Mandela, and that her editorial independence was not in dispute; and publish the agreement between the parties in full.