South Africa Newspaper Sacks Editor over Nelson Mandela Coverage

nelson mandelaA newspaper Editor in South Africa has been fired for failing to professionally cover the 5 Dec. death of former South African President Nelson Mandela, according to the Independent News and Media SA (INMSA), South Africa’s biggest newspaper group.

Alide Dasnois was sacked as Editor of the high-profile Cape Times, sparking a major row within the country’s media industry. Dasnois has said she is considering legal action over the sack.

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) and Cape Town Press Club have indicated that Dasnois may have been fired after the newspaper ran a story on Friday which painted INMSA chairman Iqbal Surve’s company, Sekunjalo, in a negative light.

The story was about a Public Protector finding that the awarding of a fisheries tender by the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries department to Sekunjalo Marine Services Consortium was improper.

The consortium is a subsidiary of Sekunjalo Holdings and acquired a controlling share in INMSA earlier this year.

However, Surve, who also chairs Sekunjalo, said Dasnois was dismissed because the only major Independent title that failed to lead editorially with Mandela’s death was the Cape Times.

“Her response was that she did not have enough resources to have done so. This excuse was not accepted by all present on the basis that all the other newspapers in Independent (except for two smaller regional publications) had the same tight deadlines and in some instances had had fewer resources, and yet they had still been able to lead editorially with the Mandela story,” Surve said.

The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) on Friday said it is deeply concerned about suggestions of inappropriate managerial interference in the editorial independence of the Cape Times.