On Wednesday, 28 September 2022, South African-based Newton Sports Agency issued a heavy-worded press statement wherein they made strong threats against local athletics coach Henk Botha, New Era and the Namibian Sun newspapers.
In its misguided press release, the agency vented their frustrations about coach Botha’s continuous involvement and pronouncements on future plans and activities of Namibia’s Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Christine Mboma, whom the agency claims is contractually under their management and, therefore, Botha has no legal grounds to speak on her behalf.
Both New Era and Namibian Sun newspapers ran stories wherein Botha shared Mboma’s desire to sever ties with the agency, and further shared with the public via the media that the matter was now in the hands of lawyers.
In the New Era article, which was authored by yours truly, Botha added that he could not share the finer details around the issue as it was now with their lawyers and, therefore, feared he could compromise the ongoing legal deliberations.
That is what this publication reported on, without making up any unfounded allegations against Newton Sports Agency or any of its representatives. In fact, our story was simply a follow-up on the last few stories we did this year about the ongoing friction between the agency, Botha and the athlete.
But for some strange and unwarranted reason, Newton Sports Agency saw it fit to slug legal threats towards Botha and both newspapers, claiming that Botha was “earlier this year warned to refrain from making further false and defamatory allegations about Newton Agency after Ms. Mboma had initially indicated her desire to train in South Africa with a new coaching team”.
Whatever personal issues and misunderstandings Newton Sports Agency might have with both Botha and Mboma is none of the media’s business. But it must be noted that we as the media will never shy away from fulfilling our mandate and function of informing and educating the public on issues that affect their communities.
In this instance, New Era simply lived up to its mandate and function of informing the Namibian public about Mboma and Botha’s ongoing situation with the agency. What is so criminal or defamatory about that? Or is Newton Sports Agency trying to apply old intimidating tricks to try and gag the Namibian media?
And while the hallmarks of natural justice and various constitutional provisions allow anyone to approach the courts or any legal route if they feel aggrieved, I should also use this opportunity to caution the agency to move carefully when dealing with the media as no amount of threats or intimidation will stop this author from keeping the Namibian public informed when and if events so dictate.
I’m not stopping them from seeking legal action against this publication, but I’m also reminding them that they are not dealing with a rookie journalist who has no idea what he is doing. I’m very much in sync with the values, ethics and standards of this very revered profession.
If anything, I would have thought maybe the agency would ask for a right of reply to what Botha had shared with the media and perhaps provide more context to the ongoing issue, and further enrich the conversation through that right of reply.
But they, unfortunately, chose to go on the offensive, gratuitously threatening this highly-respected media institution (New Era) with legal action without providing any substantive or reasonable grounds for such lame threats.
As a parting shot, I should again remind Newton Sports Agency that over here we mean serious business, and no trick in the book of tricks will deter me from informing and educating Namibians on important issues that affect them, or that affect the very fabric of our society. I remain unshaken!
Until next time, sharp sharp!!