While he believes that the recent Constitutional Court decision is disappointing, Zunaid Moti states that he is satisfied that both he and the Moti Group have successfully challenged amaBhungane’s power over the media and public perception.
This follows the recent Constitutional Court judgement that refused the Group leave to appeal directly to the Court against the whole judgement and orders of Justice Sutherland DJP of the Johannesburg High Court, allowing amaBhungane to retain possession of the Moti Group’s private documents.
The Moti Group has highlighted that these stolen documents were illegally obtained and distributed by a former employee, Clinton van Niekerk. The documents were then potentially altered before distribution and remain unverified, but are now being used as the basis for amaBhungane’s series on the Group. Van Niekerk is further believed to have shared these documents with a legal opponent of the Group for financial gain, and he remains the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation in both South Africa and Zimbabwe.
“It’s mine and the Group’s opinion that the Constitutional Court’s decision was based on procedure rather than the merits of the case. Additionally, amaBhungane has not contradicted or disputed the Moti Group’s version of the facts regarding the source of their problematic information as van Niekerk, which is why I believe that there is such a distinct bias and so many inaccuracies in their stories,” says Moti.
“This said, both the Moti Group and I respect the Court’s decision, and always knew that this was a possible outcome.”
However, although the Moti Group may have lost the battle, Moti says he is proud to have set an example in his personal capacity for current and future generations of businesspeople and individuals to protect themselves against media harassment and unjustified attacks by unethical journalists.
“This fight has been gruelling, but I believe that while we may have lost this particular battle, we have won the war by exposing the dishonesty and the hidden funding and motives behind amaBhungane’s narratives. Their journalists, unfortunately, believe they have unlimited power to destroy people’s reputations by twisting the truth and relying on baseless conjecture, but people now know not to trust them implicitly. Over the past five months alone, my social media messages have reach well over 100 million people and have been liked by over one million interested followers, which means the public are now well aware that there are two sides to a story.
“By fighting back and fighting for my name, I’ve levelled the playing field. People can see through amaBhungane, and the way in which they skew and distort reality. People know to question their stories, and see where they may be misleading readers, and the agenda behind their narratives. The truth is prevailing, their dictatorship over other media has been exposed, and their grip over the court of public opinion is broken.
“So, every time they print a new bit of fiction, I’ll speak to the general public as well on social media to ensure that the truth and my side of the story are heard. Media play a vital role in our society, and our fight has never been against all media – just what we have seen as amaBhungane’s complete lack of professionalism and unethical reporting.
“Looking ahead, it’s amaBugatti vs amaBhungane. I’m not afraid to stand up for my rights or to challenge their bias and prejudice,” Moti concludes.