In last week’s edition, a short story appeared under the heading “AfriForum-man in hof oor vermiste wildsvleis.” It concerned the court appearance of the chairperson of the local AgriForum branch, Mr Wally Schultz. He is being accused of illegally removing game from a family farm.
The article elicited a fair amount of reaction, especially on social media, where readers questioned the motives of the newspaper to report on the case. Below is a summary of the Facebook comments. Some parts of the responses were edited out, as we believe that the readers may have transgressed the sub judice rules by “testifying” while the case may still have to be adjudged in a court of law.
The response to the comments is at the end.
Johan Fourie: Ek lewer graag kommentaar op die berig aangesien ek direk betrokke was by die hele episode. Die berig is gebaseer op ’n klomp onwaarhede en het duidelik ten doel om Wally se naam deur die modder te sleep. Uiteraard sal die volle waarheid in die hof uitkom sou die saak voortgaan. Ek wil net ’n paar belangrike regstellings maak tot die artikel. Mnr. Schultz bly verseker NIE onwettig op die grond nie. Hy woon al vir die afgelope paar jaar daar aangesien dit sy oorlede pa se grond was. ... Indien die betrokke joernalis die moeite gedoen het om met Wally of ander betrokke partye te praat sou al die ware feite aangaande die saak uitgekom het en sou die artikel baie meer objektief en gebalanseerd gewees het en nie vol feitelike onwaarhede nie. Mens wonder uiteraard of die joernalis “hidden motives” gehad het toe die artikel geskryf is of waarom daar geen moeite gedoen is om agter die kap van die byl te kom nie!
Corné Smith: I’m perplexed by how such a “low blow” can be allowed in a community newspaper? I’ve known about the “case” against Wally since it happened. What a load of bull!! This is a family feud. Now I’m wondering how this got the journalist’s attention? And why didn’t the journalist, knowing full and well who Wally is and how to get hold of him, ask him to explain his side of the situation? And this where the same journalist explains in the article just above this one how the SBBV chose to keep quiet, meaning she fully understands what is required ...
Marius de Bruin: Wally Schultz, to stand out above this world is a lonely world of justice against you. The more you do the right thing the more you will be on the red carpet ... because 90% of people are losers who doesn’t have the guts for anything in life, and it is people like this that are experts to try to pull you down because their intellectual level is not too high. And family? They are the worst kind of enemy you can get! The truth will win ...
Corné Smith: This article does not try to inform the community or report on the facts. Its only purpose is to humiliate a person on behalf of someone else known to the journalist ...
Wally Schultz: Simple family dispute with my vindictive nephew who wants me off the farm people ... I’m shocked that Anton, the Editor, whom I regard as a fair and honest man ... did not bother to give me an opportunity to comment! I've lived here on our family farm for 7 years ... 5 of them with my Father ... whom I cared for on my own! Eish ... This story is so unfair and contains so many untruths!!! The case has been sent back to the Prosecuting authorities for review! … What an unnecessary load of nonsense ... I'm gobsmacked! I will be releasing a full statement on the issue.
Riette Smit II: Sue them Wally.
Wally Schultz: Hi Riette ... I'm seeing Kallie Kriel this week ... Believe me this will be discussed!!!
Nadia Spokie Meintjes: Ai jinne tog ... die ou dorpie van ons. Uncle Wally Schultz, ons staan agter jou.
Karin Strydom: Ridiculous klag. Al is dit waar - het die NPA nie beter goed om te doen nie?
Wally Schultz: Karin ... Die Investigating Officer (Detective Musinyali) het vir my gesê ... toe hy die vleis in die yskas sien, “This is a fake case ... these things waste my time when I have serious crimes to investigate.”And Yes! ... What in the Good Lord’s name does any of this pure nonsense have to do with AfriForum???
Yvette Mandie Jordaan: ‘n Koerant wat niks meer nuus het nie ... en dit so onoorspronklik laat klink deur te sê ’n man van Afriforum. ... Boikot die koerant! Oom Wally, lig oom se kop en gaan net voort.
Marius de Bruin: Asseblief tog, asof Wally Schultz nou so iets sal doen!
Rina Kroukamp Vd Heever: Wat het Afriforum met die berig te doen??
Inga Gilfillan: Dit klink vir my soos heksejag
Cassie Jordaan: Of die waarheid?
Wally Schultz is no stranger to the publishing world, and it is somewhat strange that he pleads ignorance as to how court reporting normally works. For the benefit of Johan and many other readers, allow me to explain briefly.
When someone appears in a court of law, especially if it’s a criminal case, the media have very little, if any, say in the process. Someone would have laid a charge, there would have been an investigation and the state would need to decide whether it should prosecute or not. Once the matter is “before court”, the sub judice rule comes into play. This rule is in place to prevent media coverage or other comments published in a way that could influence the outcome of a court matter.
Our law system does not allow, and rightfully so, for the media to start interviewing the accused, the complainant and some witnesses once this matter has reached the courts. This would simply constitute a “trial by media” with perhaps the readers filling in as judges and making the decision as to who is guilty and who not.
The rise of social media has brought about many challenges to the media industry. Previously, the editors tried to act as “gatekeepers”, doing their utmost to stick to the rules and protect the integrity of our legal system. Nowadays, every Facebook user is a potential publisher and a large number do not consider the implications and reach of what they say.
The fact is that Wally Schultz appeared in court and is being accused of removing game without permission. We don’t know all the details and have no opinion on the matter. For those who know more – you are entitled to your opinion. We are also convinced that the complainants in this case feel just as strongly about what they believe to be right. Respect this and allow the case to continue. If the state decides to withdraw and not continue, surely we can interview Wally and get his side of the story.
As far as the AfriForum connection is concerned – this is a hat that Wally Schultz chose to wear. If you opt for a position where you represent the general public, you become a “high tree” (the ones that catch the wind). You cannot, when it suits you, act in a “personal” capacity and then again as chairperson of a civil rights movement. Prominent members of society are under closer scrutiny than “normal” people, no matter where in the world you are. - Editor