A hearing was held in November 2013, before the Broadcasting Complaints Commission South Africa (“BCCSA”). The complaint followed an insert that Carte Blanche did where it exposed Global Visas (“the complainant”) that provides services in obtaining visas and employment overseas on behalf of its clients. The complainant alleged that the portrayal of its business by Carte Blanche was inaccurate and that the representations made to the public were factually inaccurate.

The director of Global Visas, Mr Liam Clifford (“Mr Clifford“), also alleged that Carte Blanche misrepresented him and that Carte Blanche had breached his right to privacy and dignity.

The BCCSA Tribunal had to consider whether the complainant had a valid case against Carte Blanche and whether they had in fact violated Mr Clifford’s right to dignity and privacy. It found that Mr Clifford had been given several opportunities to respond to the questions put to him by Carte Blanche but that he had failed to respond and therefore the opinion expressed by Carte Blanche was based on the facts before it. The BCCSA Tribunal further found that there was a balance in the presentation and that the complainant’s rights to privacy and dignity were overridden by a legitimate public interest.

Like all the rights we have in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996, there is no absolute right, and even rights as important as dignity and privacy may be overridden where public interest requires it to.