Cele urged to take legal action against leak

2011-07-06 14:15

Police chief General Bheki Cele urged Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to take legal action against those responsible for leaking a provisional report into a controversial police building lease, she said today.

Speaking at a National Press Club briefing in Pretoria, Madonsela said Cele sent her a letter urging her to take legal action after the Sunday Times published her report on a building lease involving the police, the public works department and property tycoon Roux Shabangu.

She said she advised Cele that she would not take legal action and would prefer to engage on the matter with the SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef).

The Sunday Times published details from the provisional report in a front page story on June 19.

The following day, the Public Protector’s chief executive Themba Mthethwa described as unethical the Sunday Times’ decision to publish the leaked report.

According to the newspaper, the report titled Against the Rules Too contains revelations by public works director general Siviwe Dongwana that he was “concerned for my personal safety and that of my family” as he was pressurised to approve two police lease deals.

In February this year, Madonsela officially issued her first report, titled Against the Rules, on police lease deals.

It dealt with a R500-million deal for a new police headquarters in Pretoria.

At the time, Dongwana said that, in terms of the Public Protector Act, it was unlawful to disclose any information related to an investigation by the protector unless she had given specific permission for its disclosure.

Today, Madonsela urged the media not to publish leaked provisional reports, because this would undermine the status of her office and her investigations.

“Until I’ve met with Sanef, I don’t think it’s proper for me to rush into the legal system,” she said.

She envisaged that they could sign a memorandum of understanding on how to deal with such situations in future.

Mondli Makhanya, Sanef chairman and editor-in-chief of Avusa Media newspapers, which owns the Sunday Times, said Sanef had received a request for a meeting.

He was not prepared to comment on the matter until “formal discussions” had been held.

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