ANC slams judge’s release of ‘brown envelope’ report

2012-02-08 09:28

The ANC has slammed the Western Cape high court’s decision to release an internal party report into the so-called “brown envelope” scandal involving former premier Ebrahim Rasool and two former Independent Newspapers journalists.

The ruling of the court on the matter this week followed an information request in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act by the Independent Newspapers group and Cape Argus editor Gasant Abarder in 2010 to gain access to the ANC report.

The party had commissioned Andries Nel to investigate and write a report following allegations that Rasool had indirectly used public funds to influence the journalists to write stories favourable to him, while rubbishing his opponents.

In November last year, judge BM Griesel ruled that the newspaper group was entitled to the report to the extent that the “brown envelopes” scandal impinged on its reputation, despite the ANC’s objection that the document was an internal party matter.

However, Judge BM Griesel ordered that the party should hand over the report to the court so that it could decide whether or not it contained the information required by the applicants, and whether they should get parts of it or the whole report.

On Monday, judge Griesel confirmed his earlier ruling and attached the report to his judgment.

This morning ANC national spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said the release of the document was “gravely prejudicial to a party contesting the disclosure of the document”. He said the party had been unable to appeal the November ruling as it was not final.

The court should have ordered the ANC to release the report to the newspaper group, Mthembu said, so that the party could still exercise its right to appeal the ruling.

“Acting in accordance with its commitment to the rule of law and in the good faith that the report would be seen and used by the judge only for the purposes outlined, the ANC complied with the order and provided him with a copy.

“The ANC was accordingly shocked and dismayed when Judge Griesel proceeded to attach a copy of the internal ANC report to his judgment, instead of ordering the ANC to make it available to Independent Newspapers.

“By attaching the report to his judgment Judge Griesel has effectively deprived the ANC of its constitutional and legal rights to appeal against his judgment,” Mthembu said.

He said the party would appeal the judgment to “correct” what it believes to be “a fundamentally flawed approach” to the matter.

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