Sutcliffe ‘monitors’ media on audit

2012-02-11 00:00

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This is the nub of a pre-emptive strike against the fifth estate by the attorney of the former eThekwini city manager in a bid to prevent the media from publishing “defamatory articles” about his client, Dr Michael Sutcliffe.

The attorney, Roger Knowles, threatens legal action if this continues.

Knowles said yesterday certain reports following the release of aspects of the Manase Report had been defamatory and damaging in terms of allegations made directly and by implication against his client.

The Manase report implicated Sutcliffe, former mayor Obed Mlaba and certain executive strategic managers in eThekwini in wrongdoing.

He said the media “will be closely monitored” and any “damaging, unfair or one-sided reports will be noted and appropriate action taken”.

Knowles said Sutcliffe is out of the country and has been unable to consider the allegations levelled against him or to respond in detail.

Sutcliffe however made a brief statement for release to the press.

He said he was being inundated with questions and queries claiming that he had failed to respond promptly in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act and on matters relating to the Municipal Finance Management Act.

“I have received no requests ever to respond to some of these matters now being bandied about in the media,” he said.

However, last week all efforts by The Witness to contact Sutcliffe for comment on the report failed.

Sutcliffe was reported to have told certain newspapers that he had indicated to MEC for Co-operative Governance Nomsa Dube his concern that the investigation targeted certain individuals.

He was also reported to have said that Dube’s sister was allegedly implicated in wrongdoing by conducting business while she was an employee at eThekwini.

Knowles said he doubted that Sutcliffe would be able to deal with the report fully until he returns to the country in March.

He said he would be unable to answer queries too.

Senzo Mkhize, ANC Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) member, said it was uncalled for, for Sutcliffe to make comments about Dube regarding the Manase Report, as it was prepared by Manase and has nothing to with her.

He said Sutcliffe should have acted against the MEC’s sister, and not used this to “blackmail” Dube.

The head of the Legal Clinic at the Freedom of Expression Institute, Mbalenhle Cele, said she thinks it is fair that Sutcliffe also has the right to be given an opportunity to respond, “which he seems to have done”, she said.

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