DUE to comments that are being posted on various websites and on Facebook as well as SMS messages sent to The Herald, I would be remiss in not setting out the irresponsible, factually incorrect and unethical reporting that has appeared in your newspaper.
The irreparable harm that you have caused my client, Andre Gouws, I accept can be nothing in relation to the continuous trauma that your comments are inflicting on the deceased's family and friends.
The report regarding the T-shirt that our client was wearing when he emerged from the magistrate's court ("Uproar over 'insensitive' T-shirt", October 11), together with the caption on the leader page describing him as "hooligan of the day" is unethical and in violation of the newspaper press rules, as well as judgments of our courts.
Our client was arrested on the Sunday in clothing which had got wet. His family attempted to get clothes to him, but were only able to get a T-shirt, a jacket and a pair of pants (no shoes) to him at the Kabega Park police station. Thereafter various attempts were made to get clothing to the accused after he had been transferred to St Albans Prison and spent three nights in custody.
The family were unable to get any further clothing to the accused and we were only able to get a pair of shoes, with no laces, to him on the Tuesday morning at the court building, which I had to bring through the security check-point.
Our client's girlfriend had picked items off his shelf on the Sunday that were folded as she had to get them to Kabega Park police station in a hurry. She did not look at these items.
At the bail application on the Tuesday our client wore the same T-shirt that had been handed to him at the Kabega Park police station on Sunday, but under a jacket.
Our client was thereafter robbed by other inmates in the holding cell on the Wednesday of his jacket. He therefore only had the T-shirt, which he had been wearing since Sunday.
There is therefore no justification in you alleging that he wore this T-shirt to provoke anyone or act in an arrogant or otherwise manner.
I was at court and there was no uproar at court by anyone. By the time my client had left the court building, which was some time after the court appearance, due to the administrative process that he had to go through to pay the bail, there was nobody who remarked on the said T-shirt.
Your photographer however took a picture outside the court, and it is clear that the posting of this picture on websites and other social media sites was the cause of the uproar.
If you had the responsibility that is required from you as an editor of the newspaper, especially in a high profile case such as this one, I could easily have explained the facts. I purposely left my cellphone number with your reporter and informed her that she could phone me at any time.
Not for the first time, you have sensationalised, twisted the truth and not fulfilled your social responsibilities, as demanded by our courts in asking a comment from the person affected by the article. I have looked at various websites where people are in uproar, mainly because they do not understand the legal principles involved, but their anger is fuelled by the newspaper reports that you (and other newspapers) have printed.
You reported incorrect facts in your newspaper about the accident without indicating to your readers that the facts had not as such been verified.
You displayed insensitive pictures of the deceased and gave incorrect details of the deceased.
You referred to me as "Advocate Cecil Beyleveld", which causes confusion with the public and the legal community, in relation to my brother, Advocate Albert Beyleveld SC, and myself, as the attorney.
Your irresponsible and vitriolic attack in The Herald could easily have been referred to me for explanation. The inescapable conclusion is that your newspaper has no regard for the rights of any of the parties.
The furore that has been created is all as a result of your malicious publication. It is you, madam, who should be hooligan of the month.
Cecil Beyleveld, attorney for Andre Gouws
ANDRE Gouws was wearing a red tracksuit top in court at 10.10am on the day in question. This has been confirmed by various witnesses. He was not wearing the tracksuit top when he walked out of court at 10.14am.
The initial incorrect information about the incident, which was supplied by police, was immediately corrected in The Herald. We disagree that the photo used was insensitive. It adhered to the regulations of the SA Press Council.
The reporter apologised personally to Mr Beyleveld for using the advocate reference, to which he laughed and responded "thanks for the promotion".
The Herald editorial team decided to make Gouws our hooligan of the day because we believe that given the circumstances and the sensitivity surrounding the case, he should have kept his tracksuit top on rather than display such a provocative T-shirt. This view was supported by many Herald readers and Herald Facebook followers. – The Editor