THE BLOG
13/04/2018 17:37 SAST | Updated 16/04/2018 10:56 SAST

Apology To Anton Harber, Thandeka Gqubule And Nomavenda Mathiane

We failed to seek out comment from Harber, Gqubule and Mathiane before publishing untested allegations. We are deeply sorry and apologise without reservation.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

On April 4, 2018, HuffPost posted a video clip of an interview conducted with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in June 2017. The interview was arranged after the screening of the documentary "Winnie", which was also broadcast on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, on eNCA.

In the video clip Madikizela-Mandela makes references to journalists Thandeka Gqubule, Anton Harber and Nomavenda Mathiane. She says Gqubule was negatively disposed towards her and that the Weekly Mail, which Harber edited in the 1980s, was "anti-me and anti-ANC". She then says the Weekly Mail "actually did the job for Stratcom".

HuffPost unequivocally apologises to Gqubule Harber and Mathiane . The publication of the video and resulting reaction on social media, as well as statements by various political actors in society, should have been avoided.

We failed to seek out comment from Harber, Gqubule and Mathiane before publishing the untested allegations by Madikizela-Mandela, and we failed to provide proper context to the history.

The video was published after it went through our production process. It was deemed newsworthy because Madikizela-Mandela reflected on her relationship with the media and was published under the headline: "I was not made by the media" – Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. We felt the public would understand that Madikizela-Mandela was referring to a hostile media, and was not making a literal accusation. There was no ill-intent, nor was the intention to expose journalists.

We subscribe to the Press Code of South Africa and adhere to the HuffPost mission statement. Upon reflection, we feel that the publication of the video is not in keeping with the spirit of those guidelines.

The allegations made by Madikizela-Mandela were her opinion, and she did not produce any evidence to substantiate it. This was not communicated in the video, and HuffPost should have reflected this.

The Weekly Mail, founded by Harber and where Gqubule worked, was South Africa's pre-eminent anti-apartheid newspaper. It uncovered the gamut of apartheid-era dirty tricks including the operations of the security branch's Stratcom campaign to discredit Madikizela-Mandela. This included coverage of how journalists were used as part of that operation.

The newspaper was also instrumental in uncovering the operations of the apartheid regime's Third Force activities, which included everything from assassinations to sowing discord and violence among black South Africans by funding organisations to do this.

In this regard, its work in showing how the state funded Inkatha, in a series called Inkathagate, is widely regarded as creating a beachhead for the political negotiations which ensued.

We recognise the role of Harber, Gqubule and Mathiane as campaigning anti-apartheid journalists and as leaders of our craft. We are deeply sorry and apologise without reservation.

This post has been edited.