Bushiri’s prayers are answered as the SABC is ordered to let him speak
The SABC has been ordered to let controversial pastor Prophet Shepherd Bushiri respond to comments made about him during an interview on April 16.
Bushiri had complained to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA)‚ and had one of the grievances upheld and one rejected.
The two complaints date back to April 16 when Bushiri was interviewed on the SABC’s Morning Live programme – and this after he had initially demanded that the public broadcaster afford him a right to respond to comments made about him almost two weeks earlier‚ on April 5.
But an hour after his interview‚ the public broadcaster had an interview with another person‚ Solomon Ashoms‚ who led a march against so-called fake prophets. During this interview‚ Bushiri and his practices were widely discussed‚ without Bushiri being given a chance to respond.
According to BCCSA documents‚ in the April 5 broadcast‚ the SABC reported that Bushiri was being “investigated by the Hawks for allegedly transporting an estimated R15-million a month out of South Africa to his country Malawi‚ in his private jet”.
The BCCSA documents state that Bushiri’s first complaint was that during his right to reply interview at 7.35am on April 16‚ the interview by Simphiwe Ncongwane was conducted in a manner that was biased‚ prejudicial‚ persecuting and very interrogative.
The second complaint was that‚ after the interview‚ the SABC had interviewed Ashoms‚ at 8.36am. He said Ashoms brought anointed water and honey branded in Bushiri’s name.
Even though the interview related to the recently held #FakeProphetsMustFall march‚ led by Ashoms and others‚ the interview seemed to have revolved around Bushiri. Bushiri claimed the SABC did not give him the right to reply.
The march was the subject of litigation in March‚ when Bushiri obtained a Pretoria High Court order interdicting the organisers from making defamatory statement about him.
In its response to Bushiri’s complaints‚ the SABC said the interview on April 5 was not meant to discuss Bushiri and said the presenter had mentioned Bushiri in passing as a result of media reports about activities surrounding his church.
The SABC said Bushiri came to the studio on April 16 to respond to all allegations made in various newspapers. It did not respond to the second complaint.
In its finding‚ the commission dismissed Bushiri’s first complaint‚ and said the SABC had granted him the right of reply.
“As for the part of the complaint that the interviewer‚ Mr Ncongwane’s conduct was biased‚ prejudicial‚ persecuting and very interrogative we have to emphasise that presenters are allowed to give their own comment on and criticism of any actions or events of public importance‚” the commission’s tribunal said in its finding‚ dated August 23.
However‚ it upheld Bushiri’s complaint on the second complaint.
The commission said that even though the subject matter of the interview related specifically to the recently-held march‚the interview seemed to have significantly revolved around Bushiri – and that it highlighted his practices extensively.
It said that since Bushiri and the topic of false prophets had been long standing controversial issues of public importance‚ this was a reason enough to have allowed Bushiri to stay on to give him the right of reply.
The commission ordered that the SABC afford Bushiri the right to reply. The BCCSA documents do not stipulate by when this must happen.