Times Media rejects former journalist's allegations

2015-12-02 12:15
Newspapers. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Newspapers. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

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Johannesburg - Times Media has rejected claims made by former Sunday Times journalist Pearlie Joubert that Rudolf Mastenbroek, the ex-husband of the newspaper's editor, influenced its reporting on the SA Revenue Services.

This followed an explosive affidavit, read out at a Press Ombudsman’s hearing of a complaint lodged against Sunday Times by former senior Sars officials.

- Read more: It's not what Sunday Times reported, it's what it didn't - Sars

In the affidavit, Joubert claimed that Mastenbroek, who had been her friend for 26 years, tried to give her information to be published in the Sunday Times which would implicate former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay and head of investigations Johann Van Loggerenberg.

"Not only was Mastenbroek not a source for any of our stories about Sars, but the central point of our reporting - the existence of a rogue unit within Sars - has been backed up by a number of independent investigations, most recently a KPMG report," Times Media managing director Andrew Gill said in a statement.

"Previously an investigation by advocate Muzi Sikhakhane also confirmed the existence of the unit. Sikhakhane's report was endorsed by Judge [Frank] Kroon. Self-evidently we were not in a position to influence the outcome of these investigations."

Mastenbroek is a member of the advisory committee set up by Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene earlier this year to attend to governance matters at Sars.

The committee is headed by retired Judge Frank Kroon.

In the affidavit, Joubert claimed that she resigned from the newspaper in February this year because she was not "willing to be party to practices at the Sunday Times which I verily believed to have been unethical and immoral".

- Read more: 'I didn't want to be part of unethical and immoral practices'

Gill said the four journalists who gathered information on the Sars reports all had their own sources in the intelligence community and Sars and tested it before publishing.

"We stand by our stories.

"We do not wish to speculate on the reasons Joubert might have for exposing a source and friend, but her perceptions about the sources and genesis of our stories are as fanciful as they are vindictive," he said.

Read more on:    sars  |  johannesburg  |  media

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