This is a guest post by Fadeelah.

After the articles published on Voice of the Cape's website on 18 May 2013 and 20 May 2013, we as Runners for Palestine were absolutely horrified at the way the situation was reported and the inaccuracies that exist in the articles. Rogeema posted responses in the comments section of both articles, but they were subsequently deleted by the website moderator.

The following letter to Voice of the Cape's management points out just some of the points we want to highlight, but it is only in response to the article of 20 May 2013.

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Assalaamu Alaykum wa rahmatullah,

I have a complaint about the article that was published on your website on 20 May 2013 titled: "Pal case hangs"

There are numerous inaccuracies and what parts of it are true are stated out of context, giving a very skewed account to an unbiased reader..

I am concerned that a Muslim community station is publishing such things to pit (Muslim) parties against each other. I also see the intent of the article to be unsavoury, as it is about a rift between the two parties quoted that is trumped up for the sake of a juicy story. This is abrasive to both the parties and issue at hand. The issue of Palestine seems to fall by the wayside.

The writer didn't ascertain the truth as she had no contact with Rogeema Kenny before the article was published. Neither did she check her facts outside of her source, as she would very quickly have realised they were lies if she had. 

The context and flow of information in the article is wrong and gives the impression that Rogeema is responding to the opening statement, while her statements were made before the date the meeting was scheduled for.

Some of the inaccuracies:

"An Itheko Athletics Club runner who was disqualified by her club" - She was not disqualified by her club, but rather by the host club whose race she had run, ie ACSIS VOB and WPA.

"for running with a Free Palestine flag"
At the said race where she was disqualified she had run with a plain Palestinian flag with no writing on it.

"has declined the make inputs at a club meeting on Sunday"
The individual concerned was present at the "meeting" but the meeting was never held as there was no quorum and was thus adjourned with no-one giving any inputs to anything.

"in order to seek a remedy for her cause within their constitution."
The aim of the said meeting was to discuss proposed amendments to the club's Constitution and not to "seek a remedy for her cause" as is suggested by the article. As for her unwillingness to give input, this is irrelevant to the issue at hand as the runners do not see their act of running with an unmarked flag as going against the constitution of the club, WPA or ASA and thus see no need to propose any changes to Itheko's constitution to continue running with the flag. This is stated in the article so the writer was aware of this, but chose to open with it anyway.

"Itheko chairperson, Farouk Meyer" - Farouk Meyer is Acting Chairperson of Itheko Athletics Club after both the Chairperson and Vice Chairperson left during their tenure.

"there would be no problem running with the Palestinian flag, minus the 'Free Palestine' message"
This is contrary to what was told to Rogeema Kenny in an official response from Farouk Meyer on behalf of Itheko after she was disqualified. Rather, she was told that they support the WPA's decision (that of disqualification) if she continued to run in club colours with the Palestinian flag. Once again I point out that if the journalist had checked her facts she would have realised that these were untruths.

I'm also concerned about the vehement defense of her article by Munadia Karaan after being alerted to the fact that it is false. Instead of removing the erroneous article she defends it and blasphemes her colleague and fellow journalist Aisha Cassiem. This is unprofessional.

I have posted the comment below to the website and in response have been asked to use the official channels. So this email is me doing so.
"This is lies, bad journalism, and harmful to the muslim community to instigate two parties against each other,losing sight of the real issue: Palestine. That's P A L E S T I N E, NOT "Pal".
The zionists are laughing at us because we are tearing each other apart and letting them get on with their zionist agendas."

The moderator on the website in response to constructive criticism of the article chooses to mock the comment makers, downplay their concerns and defends the bad journalistic practices that were used, while continuing to claim that they were sitting on the article for 2 weeks when the statements used therein were made days before the publishing thereof.

I respectfully request that the offensive article be removed and an apology to the affected parties be given.

regards,
Fadeelah Kenny

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We must commend Voice of the Cape management for taking our complaints seriously and offering to meet with us. A meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday afternoon where we will discuss the matter face-to-face. Hopefully we can reach an amicable solution.


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UPDATE BY ROGEEMA - 15 JULY 2013
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It is now close to 2 months since the above was posted, and quite a bit has happened since then.
I will give a short run down of the events. It saddens me to have to do this, but I feel that what has transpired needs to be recorded on a public forum somewhere. The truth cannot be silenced. If you choose to ignore it once I have given it to you, well then that's your choice. 


A meeting was held at the VOC offices the following Saturday, as the Wednesday meeting was cancelled due to Itheko not being available that evening. The important conclusion from the said meeting was that:
  • Voice of the Cape radio would remove the 2 offending articles with the untrue statements from their website
  • They would publish an apology and correct the 'misunderstandings'
  • I would be contacted by the Tuesday for the latest about any details needed from us to make this happen
However, what subsequently happened was:
  • I was contacted telephonically that Thursday by a journalist from VOC, and told that they have decided to no longer publish an apology, but rather publish another article with only the correct facts.
  • I did not agree to this, and called the station manager, Moegsin, as he was the one who made the agreements with us in the meeting.
  • Moegsin denied what the journalist told me, and said that if I wanted an apology and the articles removed then they would do that. 
About a month later they emailed me the apology article that was to be published. I approved it and asked to confirm that the other ones were to be removed. There was no response to my question, and the article was published a week later, without letting me know that it was published. I eventually found it when I did a search, but also found that the other 3 articles were still live and were not removed. 

When I emailed the journalist about this, she replied to me about a week later to say that she wasn't aware that they weren't removed, as her instructions to the webmaster was to publish the apology AND to remove the offending articles. Bear in mind that it was the webmaster who initially refused to correct the offending statements and incorrect 'facts' right at the beginning when we approached them about it.

A couple of days later when I did a search again, I found that 3 of the articles had been removed. The removed ones only contained ONE of the inaccurate articles, and also the original one which nobody had an issue with, AND the apology. The other offending and incorrect article was still there. In simple terms...the apology that would set things straight was removed from their website as well.

I enquired about this again, and asked them to remove the existing one and leave the apology there, as it had only been online for close to 2 weeks. The webmaster then removed ALL of the articles relating to the story. When I attempted to check again, the entire search function on the Voice of the Cape website had been removed, so I could no longer even do a search on the site, and neither could anyone else, for any article that is in their archives.

I sent a final letter to VOC management (and journalists) to find out what they are really trying to do. Was there a change in decision that I was unaware of, and why is this issue being handled so unprofessionally? Why was the incorrect, inaccurate and damaging articles left online for over 2 months with over 1,000 views between them, while the apology was online for only 2 weeks and taken down permanently after just over 100 views. In fact, many people that were in the original meeting at the VOC offices had not even seen the apology yet. 

I received the reply from the station manager today. In case I am accused of misrepresenting the facts, I will paste the exact extract as he sent it to me. It stated:
I was informed by our Webmaster that our archives have been cleared of all stories with reference to the “Palestinian flag” and as the apology made reference to the archived articles, it made sense to remove the apology after it was on-line for two weeks.

He also added that they now consider the matter closed.

It doesn't take a lot to realise then that the 'apology' was only published to keep the runners quiet and so that they can say that they did apologise. If it were sincere, it would have been left on the site, as is done with all other news articles published on the VOC website. They have now chosen to remove all references to the issue of running with the Palestinian flag, whereas they were the ones who initially came to me for the story, and not me 'running to the media' as we were previously accused of

We will not be pursuing this issue any further, as we have greater battles to fight.
Personally, I will never trust Voice of the Cape again. I don't need any more proof of their true colours.