Newspaper apologises for Cele article

2014-11-16 14:09


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Johannesburg - The Sunday Independent has apologised for a story it carried last week about President Jacob Zuma's court papers relating to the sacking of former police commissioner Bheki Cele.

"We reported that Zuma was blocking Cele's return to work through the responding affidavit. The Sunday Independent has established that the president's court papers are not new," it said in Sunday's edition.

"We sincerely regret the error and confusion created by our report last week and apologise to the president and to Cele."

Lawyer quoted

Last week, the newspaper reported that Zuma had defended his decision to fire Cele in court papers filed on his behalf.

"[Cele] failed to make out a case for the review of the president's decision," Zuma's legal adviser Boniswe Makhene was quoted as saying in the court papers.

Makhene said that in light of the inquiry's finding, the president found the "removal" of Cele was warranted.

Makhene was also quoted as saying that Cele failed to produce evidence that could "substantiate his bold assertion that the president's decision was actuated by ulterior motives".

In July 2012, Cele launched a court application to contest the findings of a report - used to fire him as national police commissioner - written by a board of inquiry led by Judge Jake Moloi.

The board found that Cele had acted dishonestly and with an undeclared conflict of interest in relation to two police lease deals he signed.

Affidavit filed in 2012

Cele's lawyer, Dinesha Deeplat from Strauss Daly Attorneys, told the newspaper last week that its heads of argument were yet to be filed - following which they would apply for the matter to be set down in court.

Cele wants the report and the recommendations declared invalid.

After the article was published, presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement that no affidavit or court papers relating to the sacking of Cele had been filed by Zuma since 2012.

"We wish to point out that the affidavit quoted by the media house, purporting to be a new response by the president, was in fact filed in 2012," he said.

"It is therefore grossly misleading, unethical and mischievous to give an impression that the court papers are new."

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