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On 27 January, The Citizen published a report under the headline Health minister appoints niece implicated in corruption to top post, dealing with the appointment of Sibusisiwe Ngubane-Zulu as chief of staff in the national health department.

We have received a complaint from Ngubane-Zulu regarding the headline and the article, as being defamatory and misleading and the allegations of corruption and nepotism being untruthful and unfounded.

On the first point, The Citizen concedes that it was misleading for the headline and article to describe her as being “implicated in corruption”.

We are aware that Ngubane-Zulu was cleared of allegations of corruption in an investigation by PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted on behalf of the PIC Commission.

This investigation found no substance to these allegations and that there was no evidence of impropriety and criminal conduct.

On the second point, we posed a question to the department’s spokesperson, Popo Maja, asking him if Ngubane-Zulu was related to the minister.

Maja did not respond to the question.

We relied on reports by other publications on the alleged family relationship without verification.

We also did not contact Ngubane-Zulu to ask her.

We now realise that this was an error.

Ngubane-Zulu in her complaint to the press ombudsman has explicitly denied being the minister’s niece.

We therefore apologise to Ngubane-Zulu for these errors and retract the article as published.

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