The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) has written a letter of support to the Moti Group of Companies and CEO Dondo Mogajane to express its support for the organisation.
POPCRU has noticed an alarming trend in the treatment and reporting of black businesses and black business leaders, whose rights and dignity are being continuously undermined by certain members of the media such as amaBhungane and News24, it states.
“Black businesses are under siege by certain members of the media, as they are often subjected to separate and unequal standards and scrutiny from their white counterparts by journalists,” states POPCRU President Zizamele Cebekhulu-Makhaza.
“Yet these same journalists participate in a clear pattern of discrimination, harassment, and abuse, refusing to allow black business leaders the proper opportunity to respond to their accusations, or failing to represent their responses fairly and in a balanced manner.”
He notes that in some cases, such as the reporting on the Moti Group, journalists have been allowed to publish stories on unreliable evidence and sources, without having to present their information for verification. The subjects of their articles are automatically found guilty by these media without a proper investigation or trial, or any due process.
“Freedom of expression and the role of media are vital in our democracy. We are gravely concerned, however, that the rule of law is not being enforced, and that black businesses are not being treated fairly or impartially,” he states.
“We believe that all cases of theft must be treated as theft. Criminals cannot be allowed to manipulate the media or the criminal justice system to avoid accountability for their crimes.
“This treatment is a gross violation of black businesses’ rights and is impeding the growth and transformation of our economy.”
In 2022, a report by the B-BBEE Commission showed that the share of black-owned businesses in the economy had decreased to 29.5% in 2021 from 31% in 2020. Additionally, the share of black management control had declined to 51.6% from 57% in 2020.
“This situation cannot continue, and action must be taken. We cannot allow the hard-won economic gains made since 1994 to be further lost by allowing a culture of fear and mistrust of black businesspeople to reside in our society, or by continuing this siege on black excellence.
“Black businesspeople cannot automatically be assumed to be guilty of wrongdoing for actions and behaviours that are otherwise normal in the course of business. They must be allowed to enjoy the same legal rights as other citizens to protect their privacy, property and reputations,” concludes Cebekhulu-Makhaza.