(28/05/2020, Opinion by a concerned Citizen)—A few days ago, President Salva Kiir appeared in a press conference held at his secret home in Luri a few kilometers away from Juba City. These was after he had spent almost two weeks without appearing in public. The public was then in panic amidst corona virus pandemic as it reached its peak for example downing big shots within RTREGONU (Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity), the Likes of Dr.Machar, defense Chief Angelina Teny and several high profile officials raising great fears and confusion in the Country.
Needless to say, several media outlets went viral and linking President Kiir to whatever thing they deemed fit at the material time. Others said he had contracted covid-19 and he was secretly isolating himself in Luri, some said he was critically ill with respiratory disease and flew to Egyptian Capital for treatment. Whilst the most said he was dead. All these accusations compelled the president to make a break through to clear the doubts about his health hence the The Luri Press conference.
Legally, pronouncing someone dead may amount to defamation varyingly as may be elucidated below;
Defamation means making statements that are likely to injure the reputation of any person by exposing that person to hatred, contempt or ridicule or likely to damage any person in his or her profession or trade. This can be magnified by Section 289 of The South Sudan Penal Code Act, 2009.
Therefore it’s not easy within the legal perspective to conclude that kiir was defamed and therefore those perpetrators need to be brought to order since according to the law above its pretty hard to prove the elements of defamation for example one has to show how the president’s profession was affected and how his life was ridiculed by the media propaganda yet in order to succeed in that channel one needs to all the above to courts of law.
Therefore it’s vital to admit that the media statements wouldn’t amount to defamation within the ambits of the law, they were just fair comments.
Politically, socially or morally.
It was indeed deadly to come up with such news, especially at such a time when the country needs a permanent bond manifested by the recent formation of the RTREGONU, this was unnecessary because the country needed to listen to good news than ever before. As we witnessed the propaganda instigated lots of fear, panic, and confusion amongst the populace.
It also arose several questions if the media outlets were really up to the unity of the country since their reason and intention remain unclear.
Therefore, the media outlets should desist from such pronouncements in future and leave them to the rightful offices, for example, the presidential press secretary or the government spokespersons so that the public isn’t put into panic and confusion as it was.
In good faith, we further suggest that a written apology is made to the public in order to clear the air and remold the situation.
*Image by UNMISS*
(The writer of the article is a concerned citizen and asked for his annonymity to be preserved and the views expressed in this article do not represent Ramciel Broadcasting’s)