Sanef: Show proof of dirty journalists

2012-05-18 07:29

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Johannesburg - The SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) has asked the police for more information about allegations that Crime Intelligence paid journalists to write articles, it said on Thursday.

"These are extremely serious allegations," Sanef said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, they have been made without any supporting evidence being provided."

Sanef said it had written to acting national police commissioner General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi asking him for more information about the allegations.

"We have asked General Mkhwanazi to provide us with the relevant evidence and any further relevant background so that we can arrive at a view on this matter which is informed by hard facts."

Rendition

Earlier, Sunday Times editor Ray Hartley said the claims were based on the flimsiest of grounds.

In a statement, Hartley said two articles on the illegal rendition of Zimbabweans were the product of a lengthy investigation.

According to the articles, rendition is "the illegal kidnapping and transfer of a prisoner from one country to another".

The front page and page 2 articles, published on October 23 2011 did not have a journalist's byline, but carried the byline "Special Report by Investigation Staff".

The newspaper article was mentioned in an SA Police Service report by Colonel Kobus Roelofse addressed to the commander of the Anti-Corruption Task Team.

It was made public on Tuesday when it was lodged in the South Gauteng High Court with other papers by the Freedom Under Law (FUL) non-profit organisation.

FUL, represented by former World Bank director Mamphela Ramphele, initiated the court action to interdict former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli from being given any responsibility in the police.

Hawks investigators

Last year, Mdluli faced fraud and corruption charges relating to alleged misuse of a crime intelligence fund, the purchase of luxury vehicles and the hiring of family members. He also faced a murder charge for the alleged murder of the boyfriend of his former girlfriend.

Both sets of charges were withdrawn and Mdluli was reinstated as head of crime intelligence.
On May 9, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa announced that Mdluli would be shifted from his position to another division.

In Roelofse's report, which is now online, he said a witness was interrogated by General Solly Lazarus, the head of finance for crime intelligence.

Others overheard them discussing the placement of a newspaper article. The article related to Hawks investigators Lieutenant General Anwa Dramat and Major General Shadrack Sibiya.

The article, which Hartley confirmed was about the Zimbabweans, named the Hawks investigators as the instigators of the renditioning.

The names mentioned in the articles were the same Hawks investigators looking into allegations of murder, fraud and nepotism by individuals in crime intelligence, especially Mdluli.

Roelofse said in his report that the witness stated that Lazarus "wanted to use sources within the media [journalists paid by crime intelligence]". These journalists would write stories to take the focus off them.

"This, according to the member, is a strategy employed to cast suspicion on those they perceive to be a threat."

Police’s ‘internal dirty war’

Roelofse said (on page 17 of the report) that the article was used by Mdluli when he made a representation to the National Prosecuting Authority to cast suspicion on Dramat and the investigating team.

In his statement, Hartley said Roelofse's accusation was "yet another attack on the integrity of our multiple award-winning investigative team".

The same team was responsible for a string of high-profile exposes of corruption, mismanagement and brutality within the police.

"We remain proud of this story which exposed that the police chain of command failed to prevent these gross human rights abuses," Hartley said.

He said the story could have been used by one or other faction in the police to further their ends "in the internal dirty war" underway in the police.

This was not something over which the Sunday Times had control.

"I would like to call on the commissioner of police and Roelofse to furnish this newspaper with any evidence they have in their possession that any journalist is in the pay of the police or has, in any way, acted in breach of the press code of conduct," Hartley said.

"If this is shown to be the case, the Sunday Times will take the harshest action against such persons." He said that if evidence was not produced, the smear on the integrity of the newspaper's journalists could not be allowed to stand.

"If there is no evidence, the acting commissioner of police must withdraw this outrageous allegation from the public domain," Hartley said.

Sanef said it had noted the Sunday Times' denial of any impropriety on the part of its investigative team.
- SAPA
Read more on:    police  |  sanef  |  hawks  |  richard mdluli  |  media
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