Did you feel as nauseous as I did when I read in the Sundays papers about allegations that the late Brett Kebble had a relationship with at least one male sex worker?
It appeared in City Press, lifted from their sister paper, Rapport. â€œKebble linked to male prostitute in police probeâ€?, was the City Press headline. â€œVermoorde Kebble se donker geheim (Murdered Kebbleâ€™s dark secret)â€?, was Rapportâ€™s which went on to describe him as a â€œmining magnate, ANC-backer and before his assassination an apparently happily married family manâ€?.
I carry no flag for Kebble, and would welcome further exposure of his extraordinary business practices and the way in which he appears to have bought favours in the ruling party. I suspect that any information that may emerge about who killed him will open up a Pandoraâ€™s Box for elements of both business and government. I would welcome it.
But this story was entirely gratuitous. In fact, any link with the investigation was expressly ruled out, as the report said the relationship â€œhas not been linked to the murderâ€?.
It was sourced only to â€œa number of police officersâ€?. You have to wonder about the motivation of those who leaked it, and those who printed it.
* In general, the papers dealt with the behaviour of former deputy president Jacob Zuma (pictured, right) and his supporters (not pictured, right) outside the court where he appeared on rape charges this week. But there was not the front-page outrage and questioning you might have expected. It was buried in comment and analysis in the inside of most papers.
A swaggering Zuma leading the crowd in a song about his machine gun; ethnocentric t-shirts and slogans; abuse of the rape accuser â€¦ these were the images of the week.
The Sunday Times had no report on the matter, but it wrote a strong editorial:
â€œThese sound like events from a horror movie set in an alien, benighted land â€¦ What message do they send to our society ..?â€?
In the Sunday Independent, Jeremy Gordin wrote strong words which appeared on page 4:
â€œWe like to say we are civilised â€¦ But then Zuma calls for his machine gun.
â€œWe like to think we are ruled by thoughtful people able to mix on the worldâ€™s stage and who care about all of us. Then Zumaâ€™s supporters hit the streetsâ€¦
â€œWe like to say that we are no racists â€¦ Then Zumaâ€™s supporters come out wearing t-shirts that say â€˜100% Zulu boyâ€?.
â€œWe like to say we are moving towards greater respect for women â€¦and his supporters abuse a member of the crowd whom they mistake for the complainantâ€?.
In City Press, Sâ€™thembiso Msomi wrote (on page 21):
â€œZumaâ€™s support base is deteriorating into a crude, ethnically-driven lobby with little regard for womenâ€™s rightsâ€?.
They led the paper, by the way, on a pretty thin story about an R4 rifle being found lying in a car near the court. Their editorial, on the other hand, was a strong attack on populism:
“Is this what he (Zuma) has become? An ethnic icon?”
The Mail & Guardian had almost nothing on the subject.
I think the debate about this kind of behaviour and its meaning for our society belongs on the front page. And everyone would read it, thatâ€™s for sure.