Freddy Greaver responds to City Press

2012-10-06 15:58

For more than a year and one month, I have been sentenced by City Press to imprisonment in a jail called the “Limpopo mafia”.

One Sunday, August 21 2011, I, Freddy Greaver, was introduced to a Freddy Greaver I have never met.

I could swear this guy was not me, but I couldn’t ignore the fact that we shared the same name, looked exactly the same, and even had the same job and we were deployed at the same institution.

Piet Rampedi and Adriaan Basson authored an information graphic that labelled me a “political czar” in a web of what they called the “Limpopo mafia”.

“A small but powerful clique of politicians, senior bureaucrats and businessmen led by Premier Cassel Mathale and ANC Youth Leader Julius Malema, has entwined business interests and has tightened its grip on the fiscus of Limpopo.”

I had to explain to my family, friends, colleagues, the media staff and anybody who cared to listen that I was not a thief who was compromising service delivery by giving tenders to “the moneymen” on the instruction of the two “Godfathers”, neither did I receive money from multimillion-rand tenders to spend on “luxury houses; farms and small holdings; luxury cars; expensive clothes; lavish parties; expensive whiskies and wines; company shares; and family trusts”.

I thought that one of the most basic principles or codes that govern journalism is that they would, at the very least, give one an opportunity to explain one’s side of the story before publishing.

Not with City Press.

They had apportioned unto themselves the supernatural power to determine what was factual and not.

So confident were they in their ability that they saw no need to give me an opportunity to comment on the matter prior to hanging me to rot in the scorching heat of corruption and public opinion.

They admitted through court documents that they never contacted me for comment – meaning that they didn’t need me to confirm or deny anything, for they are the paragons of truth and fact!

I guess they couldn’t afford to dilute the sensation of their graphic by giving me an opportunity to comment and deny my involvement in the so-called mafia.

Despite the injustice, I wrote to them through my lawyers and humbly requested them to retract and to apologise, but just as Piet Rampedi said on Thobela FM, they informed me that they stand by their story and that I am at liberty to take the matter further.

Knowing what I know now from the discovery process, I can’t help but feel that City Press have been dishonest because surely they knew then that they had absolutely no basis to include me in that graphic.

I am not ready to believe that the information they had at the time of publishing the graphic had suddenly evaporated.

I can’t avoid the temptation to conclude that they thought they could bully or scare me to accept that their word is final.

The award of R100 000 damages, together with an apology, a right of reply plus payment of legal costs, including the costs of two counsel, is substantial and I am happy about that.

That being said, however, I must mention that this case was not about rands and cents as I said from the beginning. It was about my dignity, which I felt was being trampled upon.

The apology by City Press and the admission that I am not corrupt, that I did not corruptly abuse my office, is on its own by far my greatest achievement.

Even if I were to be awarded R1.00 at the end of the trial, I would still be happy!

I believe that I will continue to suffer from the label of corruption that City Press has blessed me with.

Their apology and my right to reply may never suffice to restore my name, as was evident when one caller called Thobela FM to say that he doesn’t believe that I’m not corrupt.

He will only believe when the Public Protector says so. Another resident from Seshego told one of my co-councillors that there’s no way that I could have won against City Press. According to him, I must have “bought the case”.

The comments of the editor, Ms Haffajee, on 702 that I have given tenders to Julius Malema’s companies and that the reason they will apologise is because there is no evidence of kick-backs, smacks of arrogance.

She insinuates there may be kickbacks – they just have not been able to prove it.

There I was thinking that they had said that they never intended the graphic to mean that I am corrupt or that I corruptly abused my office because they had no evidence to indicate that I am corrupt.

If they had the proof that I, as a politician, contrary to what the Municipal Finance Management Act dictates, interfered with the supply chain management processes to give tenders to Julius Malema, why did they opt to settle out of court?

I have been warned that the media will never allow you to get away victorious.

They say that I will face the wrath of this power institution.

Well, if they do come after me, so be it. I have done what I thought I should do.

I harbour no grudges. I accept that people sometimes get things wrong because to err is human.

I have forgiven both the journalists and the newspaper.

I will cooperate with them as I always have in the interest of the public.

I hope my family will forgive me for the embarrassment I brought upon them.

The only crime I committed was to agree to serve the ANC and the people of Polokwane as their public representative.

If I knew then that this is how I would be rewarded for serving my community, I probably would have listened to my wife and stayed right where I was.

I left my wife and kids in Johannesburg to come to serve the people of Polokwane.

I have served the people of Polokwane with distinction.

The Polokwane Municipality received not less than seven excellent awards under my leadership.

I am pleased that the defendants admitted in documents filed in court that I am not corrupt, have never corruptly abused my political office and have never taken bribes.

I am pleased that this matter has finally been settled on terms that are favourable to me!

For the record:
On August 21 2011, City Press published an information graphic titled “Meet the Limpopo mafia”. The executive mayor of Polokwane, Mr Freddy Greaver, sued City Press, alleging that the graphic portrayed him as corrupt.

We did not intend the graphic to mean that Mr Greaver is corrupt and had no evidence to indicate that he is or was corrupt, or that he corruptly abused his office.

The graphic was intended as a critique of cadre deployment and to illustrate the dynamics of informal ­networks of power. We apologise to Mr Greaver for any harm caused.

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