The Citizen V McBride 2010 (4) sa 148 (sca) As a matter of fact: But whose fact?

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2 The Facts

The facts of the case appear from the judgments of both the majority and Mthiyane JA. The Citizen had published a series of articles and editorials starting on 10 of September 2003. On this day, under the heading "McBride tipped to head Metro cops" (par 3), the newspaper published revelations that it had learned from its reliable sources that McBride was about to be appointed to replace the chief of police for the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan who had resigned. The revelations were published with a detailed background and history of McBride. These included his criminal conviction for placing a bomb in a bar in Durban, which killed "several people including three women". It also mentioned his subsequent application for what turned out to be a successful amnesty from the TRC. It also mentioned how McBride was later arrested and "charged" with gun running in Mozambique and subsequently released and sent home.

This publication was followed by an editorial of 11 of September 2003 which questioned his candidacy and the African National Congress' attitude towards crime. The editorial went so far as stating that McBride's candidacy could be acceptable only if his backers supported "the dubious philosophy: set a criminal to catch a criminal". The editorial branded McBride as a criminal for "the cold-blooded multiple murders" that resulted from his bombing of the Durban bar. According to the editorial, it was for this reason and for "his dubious flirtations with alleged gun dealers in Mozambique" that McBride should have been disqualified for the job of police chief. The debate of McBride's candidacy was then joined by the then State President Mbeki who lashed out at those who criticised McBride's pending appointment (par 10). In response to this criticism of McBride's critics on 21 October 2003 The Citizenpublished an article by its columnist, one Andrew Kenny, which panned Mbeki for his criticism of The Citizen. In this article The Citizenreferred to McBride as one of the "three most notorious non-government killers of the later apartheid period ... who obstructed the road to democracy." In this article, The Citizen callously lashed out at McBride for his act of killing innocent victims in his bombing incident. It accused him of "strengthening] the hand of die-hard supporters [of] apartheid" thereby "prolonging the wretched regime" by murdering innocent women.

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