Megan Gill, the editor of South Africa’s Oscar-winning film, Tsotsi, has taken great exception to the headline of the story that appeared in the Sunday Times on 2 April, reporting on arrests made in the Tsotsi and Mama Jack piracy cases.
The article was headlined “Tsotsi editors held over pirate copies” when in fact neither of the two people arrested were in any way involved in the editing of the film. Since then the Sunday Times story has been picked up by both e.tv news and SAPA. E.tv’s headline was “Tsotsi editors arrested for piracy.”
Arrested suspects Glynnis Lincoln and Sipho Sangweni were both employed at The Video Lab Johannesburg last year, the post production facility that did colour grading and visual effects on Tsotsi. The film was not edited at The Video Lab, as implied in the Sunday Times/e.tv news story. Lincoln was a production co-ordinator and Sangweni a VT operator.
Gill says that she and the rest of the editing team (assistant editors Pravashanee Reddy and Cassious Munyai and sound editors Julie Vandenberg, Charlotte Buys and Elinor Hardy) feel that the headline is defamatory and has severely damaged their respective reputations as it wrongly implies that members of the editing team were involved in the piracy.
“I have since written to the Sunday Times objecting to the story and also contacted the news editor of e.tv, who refused to amend the story in any later bulletins. The irresponsible Sunday Times headline has subsequently been picked up by other organisations throughout the world. I have asked the Sunday Times for a retraction and an apology,” Gill told Screen Africa.
The arrests are the result of a three-month long investigation into the illegal manufacturing of pirate DVDs of Tsotsi and fellow local movie Mama Jack. Latest reports are that the accused have pleaded not guilty to theft and fraud charges.