The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Monday called on the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) to use complaint channels to raise its grievances with newspapers owned by Tiso Blackstar Group.
On Sunday, the ZCC urged all its 16 million members and supporters to boycott the Sunday World, Sowetan, Sunday Times and other newspapers owned by the media group after The Sunday World published a front-page story about ZCC leader Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane that angered the church.
The tabloid reported Lekganyane was being taken to court by the ZCC branch in Botswana and that he had violated an interim order they obtained on July 17, which prevented the church and its Botswana leaders from merging their branches.
The ZCC claimed Tiso Blackstar Group had made it its mission to defame, ridicule and make a mockery of the church. It also accused the media group’s publications of undermining the integrity and reputation of the church and Lekganyane.
Sanef’s media freedom chairperson, Sam Mkokeli, said the church had an option to either lay a complaint with the Press Ombudsman or take legal action over a story.
“On its own a total consumer boycott is not wrong or illegal, but we have institutions, and we also have processes that have proven successful over the years,” Mkokeli told TimesLIVE.
“We call on the church to go to the press ombudsman or to go to court so that these issues can be looked at properly.”
Moshoeshoe Monare, Tiso Blackstar’s deputy managing director, said the media group would not engage with the church through the media, but they were directly engaging with the ZCC to ensure the matter is resolved amicably.