Cops ask M&G journalist for statement on source of 'leaked' Absa report

2017-02-23 15:29
SA police. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

SA police. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town – Two police officers visited the Mail & Guardian offices in Johannesburg on Thursday to investigate a complaint laid by the Public Protector's office regarding the leaking of its draft Absa report.

The publication said the officers proceeded to ask for a statement from journalist Phillip de Wet on the source of the "leaked" draft report.

He declined to answer any questions before consulting a lawyer. He offered to provide a detailed, written statement after doing so.

The investigators were apparently amenable to this suggestion.

"While the M&G intends to co-operate with the SAPS where possible, we consider the protection of confidential sources to be of the utmost importance," said M&G editor-in-chief Khadija Patel.

In January, De Wet and Athandiwe Saba revealed that an interim report by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane had recommended that the bank pay R2.25bn to the fiscus for an unlawful apartheid-era bank bailout.

Leaks 'dent' Public Protector's image

The report, which was seen by the Mail & Guardian, was sent to Absa, the South African Reserve Bank, Treasury and the Presidency, which are implicated in the report.

A few days later, Mkhwebane laid criminal charges with the police over the leaking of the draft report.

Her spokesperson Oupa Segalwe told News24 at the time that the action was to establish how the leak had occurred and who was behind it.

He said in terms of the Public Protector Act, information contained in the report could only legally be publicised with Mkhwebane's consent.

"Leaking information dents the image of the institution and results in a trust deficit. It could lead to people not trusting our processes, especially whistleblowers who may not be identified," he said.

Those implicated may feel hard done by if provisional reports are published before they are given the right of reply, Segalwe said at the time.

Read more on:    absa  |  busisiwe mkhwebane  |  media

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