Swaziland’s Times Sunday made a bad error of judgement yesterday when it published photographs of the dismembered remains of two men who were reportedly blown up when a bomb they were intending to plant blew up and killed them.
The Times Sunday attempted to justify its actions by saying that it was necessary to publish the pictures because it proved that the bombing actually happened.
It reported yesterday (5 October 2008) on the reasons for publication, ‘The primary reason being the public interest: the pictures are but proof that two people were indeed blown to death by the bomb that prematurely exploded before it could be planted under the Lozitha overhead bridge.’
It went on to say that it thought the pictures would also spark a debate on ‘is this the terror we want as a country’.
Just how it would do this is unclear.
The pictures were ghastly and had no place in a newspaper. They added nothing to readers’ understanding of why the bomb exploded and what it was the planters of the bomb were trying to protest about.
I am puzzled why the Times Sunday thought it was necessary to prove that the explosion actually took place. Is it saying that there is a publicly-voiced concern that the deaths never actually happened? Does it mean to say that people believe it is all one big propaganda stunt on the part of the Swaziland defence forces to make people think that there is a terrorist threat in Swaziland when there is not?
The newspaper insults the intelligence of its readers if it genuinely believes that it has to publish pictures of bodies that have been blown to pieces in order to convince them of a fact. Who does the Times Sunday think was buried at the weekend if not the two dead men?
Incidentally, the Times Sunday doesn’t make clear where it got the photographs from. Was a newspaper photographer conveniently to hand when the bomb went off? If one had a suspicious mind one might think that the pictures were taken by security force personnel and later handed to the paper.
The photographs caused anger among readers if comments left on the newspaper’s website are anything to go by. Some made references to the editor’s lack of skill and lamented that former editor Bheki Makhubu was no longer at the paper.