Oscar Pistorius has received an apology from the South African Judiciary Inspectorate of Correctional Services (JICS) for misleading statements quoted in the media in August 2015.
On 22nd August 2015, the Saturday Star Newspaper published a story about Oscar Pistorius. Kashieva Ajam, acting editor of the Saturday Star newspaper inferred in the article that Oscar was a rich and pampered man who wanted special privileges.
The headline was “Oscar's Diva Demands - Prison Life doesn't meet convicted athlete's stringent conditions.”
IOL news carried the story under a similar headline, and there was further coverage in the Sunday Times. It has become apparent that the reports originated from a CNN interview that covered the issues of Oscar having a special bed, a bath, and other privileges in prison.
The letter of apology from the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services states that they now want to rectify inaccurate statements made to the originator of the news.
During the interview, a representative of the department, Mr. Murasiet Mentoor was quoted as saying that Oscar Pistorius had requested that a bath be placed in his cell and that this had been done. In the statement of apology, the department says now, that in fact Oscar never requested a bath be built in his cell.
There was a bath in his cellblock, which was available for him to use. In the original CNN report, they stated that Oscar had a bath provided for him “because he could not shower.” The Star reported this as “a bath was built ‘because [Pistorius] complained that he wanted to bath’.”
The spin on this story was obviously “massaged” from the original CNN report and the family complained that this was done to “to suit the newspaper’s agenda”.
There were several other inaccuracies such as the issue of food, where it was inferred that Pistorius was paranoid about poisoning and that Oscar would therefore only buy food from the prison shop. Any inmate is entitled to buy from the shop and it was not a special privilege for Oscar to do so..
The family of Oscar Pistorius appealed to the Press Ombudsman that the reporting was unethical, slanted, and inaccurate. Ajams response to the Ombudsman was that she would stand by her story as it was 100% correct and she had checked the contents of her story over the ‘phone with Mentoor before publishing.
The conclusion of the Ombudsman was “ that the story was blatantly inaccurate and unfair to Pistorius.”.
The newspaper was instructed to print an article on the front page of the paper, under the masthead and in bold, and the words “apology,” or “apologize” and “Oscar” were to appear in the headline.
Since then the IOL online news has apologised and edited their article, and the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services have issued their retraction and apology for inaccuracies made by their representative.
Oscar is now out of prison and under house arrest. The Supreme court will hear the Prosecution appeal against his conviction of Culpable Homicide, where they will argue before the judges for a murder conviction on 3 November.