The Sunday Times (South Africa)

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The Sunday Times
Sunday Times Logo.gif
Type Weekly newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Owner(s) Times Media Group
Editor Phylicia Oppelt
Founded 1906
Headquarters Johannesburg
Circulation 504,000 weekly
Official website

The Sunday Times is a popular South African Sunday newspaper. It has an audited circulation of 504,000 and a weekly readership of 3.2 million, making it the largest weekly newspaper in South Africa. Recently it was involved in exposing a corruption scandal involving the South African government's US$6 billion arms deal. The newspaper was founded in 1906.

Notable people[edit]


The Sunday Times is no stranger to controversy, given its hardline approach to South African politics. On 5 November 2007 it was reported that a consortium containing some senior government figures had launched a bid to purchase 100% of Avusa (previously Johncom), the company which owns The Sunday Times.[1]

In 1992, the former columnist Jani Allan sued the British broadcaster Channel 4 for libel over affair allegations involving her and Eugene Terre'Blanche.[2] Allan had previously interviewed the AWB leader for the Sunday Times.[3] Allan had already settled out of court with the London Evening Standard and Options magazine over similar allegations.[4] The then-news editor of the newspaper, the late Marlene Burger[5] and newspaper astrologer Linda Shaw[6] testified against Allan. Prior to the libel suit, Allan had published articles for the newspaper dismissing the affair allegations.[7] Allan also allowed the newspaper to publish answerphone messages left by Terre'Blanche as well as her threats of taking legal action against Terre'Blanche for nuisance contact.[8] Allan lost the case; the judge ruled that she had not been defamed but did not conclude whether or not an affair had taken place.[9] The case became notorious for violence and a dirty tricks campaign.[10][11] Publications such as the Financial Mail and Allan herself speculated that the defence witnesses were paid by the De Klerk regime in an attempt to destabilise the far-right in South Africa.[12] Shaw recounted her editor, Ken Owen's reaction to the case "When I came back from London. Owen stood in the middle of the newsroom and said: 'You have single-handedly destroyed the reputation of every journalist in the country and we have become the laughing stock."[13]

On 13 November 2005, The Sunday Times broke the story that popular African National Congress (ANC) leader Jacob Zuma was being investigated on rape charges. It was reported that Jacob Zuma considered legal action against the publication, although it later emerged that an investigation was in fact under way. On 6 December 2005, official rape charges were filed against Jacob Zuma. Zuma would later be acquitted of rape.

By 2006, Jacob Zuma's discontent with The Sunday Times grew intensely. In March 2007, Zuma sued the paper for 6 million Rand over two columns by popular columnist David Bullard. The two columns, "Stupidity a mitigating circumstance for Zuma", published on 16 April 2006, and "Visit the Zuma website to see what was meant" (7 May 2006) were cited by Zuma as defamatory and an "impairment of his dignity".[14] Although David Bullard was found to be operating within the ethical bounds of The Sunday Times regarding the two columns, he would later fall out of favour with Editor Mondli Makhanya.

On 10 April 2008 Bullard was fired from The Sunday Times after the publication of a column on 6 April 2008 (Uncolonised Africa wouldn’t know what it was missing) received stern protest from several political parties. The editor apologised for the column, saying "by publishing him (Bullard) we were complicit in disseminating his Stone Age philosophies".[15]

In September 2008, The Sunday Times was again vigorously attacked for publishing a highly controversial piece, this time in the form of a cartoon by critically acclaimed cartoonist Jonathon Shapiro (Zapiro). The cartoon depicted Jacob Zuma getting ready to rape the Justice System while being assisted by the leaders of various ANC and political factions and parties. Zapiro denied any ambiguity between Jacob Zuma's depiction as a rapist in the cartoon and his earlier rape trial. The Sunday Times and its editor were slated by various ANC officials. A joint press release by the ANC, the South African Communist Party and the ANC Youth League lambasted The Sunday Times editor, describing him as a dictator, and called for his replacement: "We can only hope that the newspaper will find a suitable leadership other than the ranting dictator who finds joy in manipulating the truth."[16]


  • Bullard, David (2002). Out To Lunch. Jonathan Ball Publishers.  (First edition of Out To Lunch columns originally published in the Sunday Times.)
  • Bullard, David (2005). Out To Lunch Again. Jonathan Ball Publishers.  (Second edition of Out To Lunch columns originally published in the Sunday Times.)
  • Bullard, David (2007). Screw it, Let's Do Lunch!. Jonathan Ball Publishers.  (Third edition of Out To Lunch columns originally published in the Sunday Times.)
  • Dreyer, Nadine (2006). A Century of Sundays: 100 Years of Breaking News in the Sunday Times, 1906–2006. Zebra.  (Centenary special edition compilation)

Distribution areas[edit]

2008 2013
Eastern Cape Y Y
Free State Y Y
Gauteng Y Y
Kwa-Zulu Natal Y Y
Limpopo Y Y
Mpumalanga Y Y
North West Y Y
Northern Cape Y Y
Western Cape Y Y

Distribution figures[edit]

Net Sales
Oct - 12 Dec 449 799
Jul - 12 Sep 451 676
Apr - 12 Jun 452 785
Jan - 12 Mar 455 129

Readership figures[edit]

Estimated Readership[19][20]
12 Jan – 12 Dec 3 411 000
11 Jul – 12 Jun 3 688 000

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Guardian
  2. ^ Channel 4 sued The Independent. 21 July 1992
  3. ^ Wren, Christopher S. (7 October 1990). "Rumblings on the Right". New York Times. 
  4. ^ Jani Allan fights on despite 300,000 pounds libel costs The Independent. 6 August 1992
  5. ^ Marlene Burger: Legendary news editor Sunday Times. 3 May 2009
  6. ^ Courtroom 14: the Owl has landed The Independent. 25 July 1992
  7. ^ Allan, Jani.The REAL story of me and ET and the SAP, Sunday Times, 2 January 1989, p.1
  8. ^ Terre Blanche scandal: "Darlinkie" phone plea claim. The Times. 31 July 1989
  9. ^ "Century of Sundays". Carte Blanche (TV series). 3 May 2006. 
  10. ^ Jani Allan Libel Case: Shadow of violence hung over trial The Independent. 6 August 1992
  11. ^ Four dirty tricks they played during the Jani Allan case: Nick Cohen and David Connett in London and Chris McGreal in Johannesburg peer into the murky background surrounding last week's Jani Allan libel case The Independent. 9 August 1992
  12. ^ [Leading article]. Financial Mail. 6 August 1992
  13. ^ Dreyer, Nadine. A Century of Sundays: 100 Years of Breaking News in the Sunday Times, 1906–2006. Zebra. 
  14. ^ The Arms Deal Virtual Press Office
  15. ^ The Times
  16. ^ Official ANC Web page
  17. ^ "Sunday Times Website". Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  18. ^ Audit Bureau of Circulations (S.A)
  19. ^ SAARF AMPS (Previous Presentations)
  20. ^ SAARF AMPS (Industry Presentations)

External links[edit]