Newspaper betrayed source: NGO
Cape Town - The South African chapter of an international non-governmental
organisation on Monday lodged a complaint with the Press Ombudsman
in which it accused the Sunday Times of betraying an arms deal
source and jeopardising his life.
Press ombudsman Ed Linington confirmed he received the complaint
from Terry Crawford-Browne, of the Economists Allied for Arms
In his complaint, Crawford-Browne alleged the newspaper "betrayed
assurances" that it would not reveal the identity of Bheki Jacobs,
believed to be the author of documents alleging that top ANC
leaders took kickbacks from weapons manufacturers in return for
facilitating the R43-billion arms deal.
'A flagrant violation'
"The betrayal is a flagrant violation of the ethics of journalism,
but given the extreme sensitivity of the arms investigation, has
also jeopardised Mr Jacobs's life."
Crawford-Browne facilitated a meeting at his Cape Town home between
Jacobs and a Sunday Times reporter last year.
In a separate statement on Monday, Crawford-Browne said Sunday
Times editor Mike Robertson had threatened that the newspaper would
take legal action "should I expose the fundamental lapse of
Robertson on Monday denied there was any lapse of ethics and said
Crawford-Browne was welcome to lodge a complaint with the
He said he had threatened legal action after Crawford-Browne made
slanderous remarks about the Sunday Times reporter's relationship
with the National Intelligence Agency.
Linington said he would await a reply from the Sunday Times before
deciding on any action.
'Sunday Times humiliated'
Crawford-Browne claims he set up the meeting between Jacobs and the
reporter after the newspaper's "humiliation in being forced to
apologise on December 3, 2000 to Minister Essop Pahad and ANC Chief
Whip Tony Yengeni following earlier reports of their attempts to
squash the arms acquisition investigation".
"The Sunday Times... has betrayed e-mail and telephonic guarantees
not to identify Mr Bheki Jacobs. Jacobs was introduced to a Sunday
Times reporter on December 14, following requests for assistance by
the newspaper to expose political pressures being applied against
it by government ministers and officials."
Crawford-Browne said he only set up the meeting after he received
assurances from the reporter that she would not identify Jacobs as
"The Sunday Times betrayal has unleashed a witch hunt against
Jacobs, and may have jeopardised his life," he said.
For the past two weeks, the Sunday Times has run with stories about
Jacobs, the latest headlined "'secret agent' sowed fear and
Jacobs 'highly trained operative'
The latest report quoted former ANC MPs, who accused him of
distributing bogus intelligence documents about cliques in the
tripartite alliance plotting against President Thabo Mbeki.
Meanwhile, the Mail and Guardian claimed that despite attempts by
the presidency to rubbish Jacobs, he was a highly trained
intelligence operative, who until the end of last year, was
reporting to the South African Secret Service and NIA.
The newspaper quoted unnamed sources saying they believed Jacobs
had been deliberately exposed because some government leaders had
been annoyed by his sharply critical reports.