As you may know, on 6th March 2018 The New Age newspaper published an article entitled ‘The Unlimited accused of fraud’. In the article The Unlimited is accused of debiting the accounts of two persons without authority and is accordingly “fingered for fraudulent debit orders”. A copy of the article is attached to this correspondence.
We would like to make it clear that we reject the allegations in the strongest possible terms and regret the reputational damage to our brand caused by this incorrect report.
On 6th March, and during the course of our investigations into the matter, we spoke with both the KZN Regional Editor of The New Age, Fawzia Moodley, as well as the journalist responsible for the article, Sihle Mavuso. The facts, as they stand, are as follows:
- Veracity of allegations: We were able to track down the details of both customers who, according to the article, accused us of debiting their accounts without authority. In both instances we have mandates from our customers to debit their accounts. Should you require further information please let us know.
- Inadequate time to respond: The journalist posted a request on our website at about 11:40 on 5 March 2018 asking for a company representative to contact him so he could send through a list of questions he had regarding alleged fraudulent debit orders. The article was published on Tuesday morning, which was insufficient time to investigate fully and revert to the journalist. There was no urgency to publish given the serious allegations levelled against The Unlimited.
- To date we have yet to receive copies of the “two debit orders” which The New Age alleges it has in its possession.
- Despite Sihle Mavuso having undertaken to “retract our [The New Age] misinformation” and having apologised unreservedly, we were subsequently informed by Fawzia Moodley that The New Age will be investigating the matter further and will not publish a retraction on 7th March in accordance with our demand.
- Next Steps: We lodged a formal complaint with the Press Ombudsman. As the New Age has withdrawn from the Press Ombud system the Ombud has no jurisdiction over The New Age. We have, however, also referred the matter to our attorneys for the purposes of formulating a damages claim.
We take allegations of this nature incredibly seriously. We are committed to conducting business with the highest levels of integrity and ethical standards. We will not sit back whilst our brand, and accordingly our business is put at serious risk.