Sunday Independent denies Cele claims

2010-11-07 20:30

Johannesburg - The Sunday Independent has denied police Commissioner Bheki Cele's claims that the newspaper wanted to publish names of crime intelligence operatives.

"Cele is not telling the truth when he says the paper wanted to release the names of operatives and safe houses used by crime intelligence," editor Makhudu Sefara said in a statement.

He was referring to comments made by Cele during an interview with Justice Malala on on Sunday morning.

Cele said in the interview: "What was stopped is the (newspaper) publishing names of covert operatives."

The paper wanted to "expose those people", he said.

Sefara, however, denied this.

"We have not said anything remotely close to suggesting that we wanted to release that sort of information prior to the Friday we were gagged."

Lawyers late

On October 29 police succeeded in an urgent application to the North Gauteng High Court to stop the newspaper from publishing information about appointments, and to return documents in its possession.

The ruling was made after the newspaper's lawyers did not arrive on time for the hearing.

Sefara said the paper had been in possession of documents containing the names of operatives.

"They instructed us to submit our story for them to approve even before it was written, which of course was preposterous."

He said police applied for a court order because they knew the newspaper would publish a follow-up story on the issue.

"That they knew we were working on a follow-up even before they were contacted for comment suggests they most probably were listening to our reporters' telephone conversations," he claimed.

The newspaper has filed notice to appeal against the court order.