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Media Statement: SAHRC strongly disassociates itself from false information following mediation with Mongezi Mahlangu and James French

Attention: Editors and reporters

21 October 2014

The South African Human Rights Commission (the Commission) received complaints about violations to the rights to dignity and equality from James French, Alice Choe, Mongezi Mahlangu and Mome Mahlangu

The complaint by Mr French and Ms Choe was premised on allegations relating to xenophobic comments, discharge of a firearm and physical assault. These allegations were later expanded to include false media publications and broadcasting. The complaint by Mr and Mrs Mahlangu was premised on an allegation of the use of the “K-word” by Mr French during the same altercation.

The Commission engaged in two lengthy conciliation and mediation processes with the parties. However, despite the resolutions made in the initial agreement between the parties, the mediation efforts were unsuccessful.

One of the terms initially agreed to between the parties on 18 September 2014 was that Mr and Mrs Mahlangu would issue a written apology would be published within 7 (seven) days of the signing of the agreement in each of the media outlets that incorrectly reported the incident e.g. Daily Sun, Sunday World, Twitter.  Mr French alleged that this had not been done.

Following this alleged breach, a further term was agreed to between the parties on 8 October 2014 that a tweet including a link to the apology would be posted by Mrs and Mr Mahlangu on their respective twitter accounts, together with a media statement about the complaint and settlement thereof. Ms Choe and Mr French raised concerns about the content of the media statement and the tweet that was to be posted by Mr and Mrs Mahlangu on their respective twitter accounts.

The parties’ on-going unhappiness with the fulfilment of terms impacted on certain allegations involving criminal conduct, which formed one of the bases of the complaint from Mr French and Ms Choe. In addition, Mr French raised certain new violations which had not formed a part of the initial complaint to the Commission. Mr Mahlangu and Mrs Mahlangu also indicated their intention not to proceed with the mediation and advised of their intent to have the matter resolved through litigation. The Commission considered the matter together with the need to ensure both parties benefit by having their concerns ventilated through and determined by the courts should they wish to do so.  On this basis the Commission deemed the mediation and reconciliation efforts between the parties to have been unsuccessful.

In the course of renegotiating terms of settlement,  the content of the television program, Ek Se, which aired on E-TV on 7 October 2014 (the repeat broadcast of which occurred on 8 and 9 October 2014), was brought to the attention of the Commission. The Commission records that any reference to the ‘South African Human Rights Commission’ assisting with the deportation of the person referred to in the program by Mr Mahlangu are false. The Commission strongly disassociates itself from the false information broadcast in the program and reserves its rights to bring its concerns about the program content to the attention to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa.

Issued by the SA Human Rights Commission
Isaac Mangena
Head: Communications
071 884 8273

For comments email info@sahrc.org.za [Back]

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