During a student parliamentary assembly held on 23 February, a mandate was tabled by the South African Students Congress (SASCO) requesting that an ombudsman or media tribunal be established for Perdeby.
According to SASCO chairperson Sudube Ramokgopa, information that is published in Perdeby articles is distorted and biased. “We want a fair representation of both sides of a story,” Ramokgopa explained. “The role of the ombudsman is not exercised and it has become necessary.”
Another SASCO member, Tokologo Ngakane, explained that all students must be able to raise their grievances to Perdeby. “We feel that Perdeby is more than just a tabloid and should be the voice of students,” said Ngakane. She also said that societies such as SASCO and the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (PASMA) do not feel they can approach Perdeby. “We have never seen Perdeby as an ally, they are our last resort,” explained Ngakane.
She added that Perdeby should cover more issues concerning student life so it can serve as a communication tool amongst students as well as between management and students. SASCO also feels that the Student Representative Council (SRC) should make better use of Perdeby to promote itself and become more visible.
In reaction to a mandate being called for, Cilliers Brink, on behalf of the Democratic Alliance (DA), said that the DA ? nds such a suggestion ridiculous. “They [SASCO] don’t have a brain of their own,” Brink stated. “They can’t determine their own agenda. But what they can do is follow their national mother party, the ANC, and try to use power to silence people. They clearly want to cover up the truth.”
The representative for the Congress of the People (COPE) on the SRC, Katlego Malatji, says that COPE is committed to free speech and freedom of the press. “We must wait for the proposal to be submitted by parliament.
We can then determine whether it is within the con? nes of the law and only then can we entertain looking into solving the matter,” said Malatji.Chairperson of the SRC, Charl Oberholzer, stated that the SRC will take the mandate into consideration, but has no final conclusion on the matter.
“We have to determine if this is what students want. Perdeby is a service provider and students have to be happy with the service it provides,” said Oberholzer.Head of Service Providers on the SRC, Duncan Platt, stated that a media tribunal would be impossible and unconstitutional because it acts against freedom of speech and press freedom.
Platt also said that students who are unhappy with information that is published should pursue the matter according to the constitutional guidelines.Perdeby is answerable to the press ombudsman and any complaints against Perdeby or articles published in Perdeby should be sent through the ombudsman’s office.
Carel Willemse, Editor-in-Chief of Perdeby stated that Perdeby has never been approached by either SASCO or parliament about these allegations, nor has it ever received press releases about their activities.
Perdeby subsribes to the South African press code and if any member of the public feels unfairly treated in an article or that any article contravenes the press code, they are welcome to write a formal complaint to the ombudsman or the registrar of the university. They can also send complaints directly to firstname.lastname@example.org