Protector: New Age story regrettable

2011-01-07 22:06

Johannesburg - The Public Protector and the New Age newspaper are at loggerheads over a report relating to the controversial R500m lease for new police headquarters in Pretoria.

"It is regrettable that The New Age would want to stand by their story, which is obviously, in part, factually incorrect," Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said in a statement on Friday.

"Going forward, we will have to find a way to verify facts before they are published as this has a negative effect on our integrity as a constitutional institution."

On Wednesday, the New Age reported that the SA Police Service, the public works department and the National Treasury were not co-operating in her investigation into the deal for the R500m lease.

On Friday, it reported that it stood by its story.

The Sunday Times reported a few months ago that the deal had been signed without a public tender, prompting the Hawks and the Public Protector to investigate.

The Public Protector's draft report had been given to the parties involved for their comment by January 3. However, this deadline had been extended to February.

Madonsela said on Friday at no point during her interview with the New Age did she imply that any state organ had snubbed her deadline.

Madonsela earlier said police had requested an extension for operational reasons.

"It is therefore improper to allege that the SAPS has missed the deadline since the deadline has long been extended."

The New Age was launched in December and is funded by the Gupta Group, which has close links to the ruling ANC.

In his maiden editorial, editor Henry Jeffreys said it was not "The New Agent".

"... Well, here it is. The New Age has no formal links with the ANC (or any other political party, for that matter).

"There is no hotline between my office in Midrand and Luthuli House in Sauer Street," he wrote.

He said it would support the government of the day but its editorial would be critical and would expose bad government, bad business and corruption.

Read more on:    public protector  |  the new age  |  police  |  thuli madonsela  |  police lease saga
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