Drunk, thief and charlatan

Tabloid life is alive and well in South Africa:

The Johannesburg Sunday Times said yesterday that it expected its editor and a journalist on its staff to be arrested this week after reporting allegations that the country’s health minister was a drunk and a thief.

The newspaper said its editor, Mondli Makhanya, and reporter, Jocelyn Maker, would be “hauled off to Cape Town in connection with charges of theft and for contravention of Section 17 of the National Health Act”.

The statute makes it an offence to gain access to a person’s confidential medical records.

The newspaper claimed in August that during a two-day stay in a medical clinic for shoulder operations, Mantombazana Tshabalala-Msimang “threw drunken tantrums, abused nurses and washed down medication with wine and whiskey”.

It said alcoholism was the reason Ms Tshabalala-Msimang recently had to have a liver transplant. The newspaper also alleged that she had been expelled from Botswana while in exile during the apartheid era for stealing from a patient who was under anaesthetic.

In Australia, tabloid hacks are no less shamelessly partisan.