Helen Zille. Picture: VELI NHLAPO/THE SOWETAN
Helen Zille. Picture: VELI NHLAPO/THE SOWETAN

AFTER seeing off a newspaper‚ Western Cape premier Helen Zille is gunning for Press Council director Joe Thloloe.

In a complaint submitted on Wednesday to council chairman Judge Phillip Levinsohn‚ Zille said Thloloe failed to correctly implement a ruling against the Cape Times.

Zille’s spokesman‚ Michael Mpofu‚ said the Cape Times "fabricated a story about the premier hiring a spy‚ misleading its readers throughout an eight-month long smear campaign".

The Press Council appeals panel chaired by Judge Bernard Ngoepe ruled against the newspaper and ordered it to publish a front-page apology to Zille and grant her a right of reply in the same edition.

"Despite issuing the front page apology on 21 July‚ the Cape Times remains in violation of the appeals panel ruling‚" said Mpofu.

"This is because they failed to publish the premier’s reply and instead published an unauthorised and amended version of the premier’s response‚ as sanctioned by Mr Thloloe.

"Neither the appeals panel ruling‚ nor the complaints process‚ makes provision for the director of the Press Council’s office to tamper with the premier’s reply."

Mpofu said at best Thloloe’s conduct showed that he misunderstood his powers. "At worst‚ his actions smack of potential bias."

Zille said: "The public needs to be able to trust in the Press Council’s self-regulatory mechanisms for complaint adjudication. Employees of the Press Council should be well-versed in their powers‚ obligations and roles. In our view‚ their conduct should not be biased‚ or lead to a perception of bias."

She has asked Levinsohn to ensure the conduct was not repeated‚ "and that the integrity of the council’s complaints procedures and rulings are upheld. This is important for all members of the public wishing to make use of this service in the future."

TMG Digital/The Times