Chakabuda Law Firm vs TellZim (February 2017)

The VMCZ Media Complaints Committee (MCC) has received a complaint from Chakabuda Foroma Law Chambers on behalf of Makurira Memorial Clinic over a story published by TellZim on 27th January-2nd February 2017 headlined “Masvingo General Hospital renal unit equipment stolen … five hospital staff, Makurira Clinic under investigation”.

According to the details of the complaint:

  • Chakabuda Foroma Law Chambers requested a retraction on behalf of Makurira from TellZim on 31st January 2017
  • TellZim subsequently published not a retraction, but a new article on 2nd - 9th February 2017 which carried additional misleading facts.
  • That Makurira Clinic is not under any criminal investigation or any investigation as “categorically” stated in the publication
    • That Makurira Clinic does not own a renal dialysis unit and has never built one as stated in the article in question
    • That TellZim has not reverted to Makurira Clinic or Chakabuda Foroma Law Chambers to verify the correct, factual position on the ownership of the renal dialysis unit 
    • Citing sections 4,5,7 and 12 of the media code of conduct, the complainants further argue that the article may harm their reputation; that TellZim persists with creating a further impression that Dr. P.S Makurira or the clinic maybe shying away from potential criminal liability or any form of liability and that they view any remedy by TellZim outside a retraction as not genuine and honest.
    Makurira Clinic is therefore demanding a retraction and apology  from TellZim in its next edition. The complainants further demand that the retraction and apology should be accorded the same 
  • Prominence as the offending article.

     

    Status: Pending

     

    TellZim in its response indicates:

     

    • The newspaper published the two said articles. However, the newspaper’s intention was not to defame Makurira Memorial Clinic but they published the story  because it was of public interest especially considering that many people in Masvingo are dying because they cannot afford dialysis fees at private clinics, hence the dialysis machine at Masvingo General hospital came as a relief to the community and the news that parts of the machine were stolen was indeed newsworthy.
    • That there is however, no signage at Makurira Clinic to indicate that the renal unity is run by Agape and the unit is inside the clinic itself and the common referral name is Makurira Memorial Clinic.
    • That even the Provincial Medical Director (PMD) and the police spokesperson for Masvingo confirmed that they were carrying out investigations at the said clinic. They never at any time mentioned Agape Renal Care.
    • That the newspaper’s sources from the investigating team said  also questioned staff at Makurira Clinic which then made it difficult for the paper to distinguish renal unity as a separate entity.
    That after the newspaper’s first article, Chakabuda Law Firm wrote to TellZim indicating that Makurira Memorial Clinic was never investigated since they do not have a dialysis machine. However, the communication distancing Makurira Clinic from investigations indicated that investigations were carried at the Agape Renal Care which   is housed at Makurira Memorial Clinic making it difficult for both their clients and an ordinary person to distinguish the two. TellZim therefore wrote another story exonerating Makurira and indicated that the renal unit was being run by Agape Renal Care as indicated by Chakabuda Law Firm.
  • Tha TellZim had no intention to defame the complainantand that the second story clearly indicated that Makurira is not the one running the renal unit although it is housed at the same complex - which is an undisputed fact.
  • That TellZim is still following up the story as investigations are still going on, and in these stories there is clear indication that the renal unit is run by Agape Renal Care
    The matter will be settled through adjudication by the MCC.