More twists in the Pule inquiry

2013-05-19 14:01

Minister suspects Dlodlo and businessman of leaking stories.

Communications Minister Dina Pule suspected senior ANC member Ayanda Dlodlo and a friend of President Jacob Zuma of leaking stories about her to the media.

City Press is in possession of a document submitted to Parliament’s ethics and members’ interests committee, which is conducting an inquiry into Pule.

DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard handed in the document, which contains information provided to her by the Sunday Times about their investigation into Pule.

In the document, Pule is quoted as telling the newspaper she suspected Dlodlo and Durban businessman Mabheleni Ntuli of leaking the information.

The Sunday Times has for months been publishing details of how businessman Phosane Mngqibisa, who they call Pule’s boyfriend, allegedly benefits from deals in Pule’s department.

At the heart of the matter is last year’s ICT Indaba, organised by events manager Carol Bouwer, of which Pule’s department was the main sponsor.

Mngqibisa was subcontracted by Bouwer and was paid R6?million for his services.

The hearing into Pule continued this week and committee members were asked to hand in their cellphones because of concerns information was being leaked to the media.

City Press asked Kohler Barnard about the document she handed to committee members on May 2, containing details of international flights undertaken by Pule and Mngqibisa, respectively.

She referred all questions to ANC MP professor Ben Turok, chairperson of the committee, who said all deliberations were confidential.

Kohler Barnard said she was given the information by an anonymous source, but she didn’t delete references to the Sunday Times or their sources.

Besides the flight details, the document quotes a source claiming Pule had shared a room with Mngqibisa on overseas trips (the minister denied he was her boyfriend). It also contains details of the meeting between Pule and the Sunday Times, facilitated by soccer boss Jomo Sono, and an allegation that Bouwer was “forced” by Pule to subcontract Mngqibisa.

In her evidence, Bouwer said she was introduced to Mngqibisa by Themba Phiri, a deputy director-general in the communications department.

On the meeting with Sono, Kohler Barnard’s document mentions the soccer boss, a close friend of Sunday Times journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika, was there as an “independent observer, as requested by Phosane”.

“The discussion in that meeting was off the record and the minister never denied her relationship with Phosane. In fact, she tried to blame Durban businessman Mabheleni Ntuli as a source of our story. Pule claims Ntuli was jealous after she turned down his sexual advances and proposals. At some stage, she explained that the businessman gave her the keys to his Bentley and that he was jealous she chose Phosane over him, hence he leaked the story to the Sunday Times,” the report reads.

When called for comment, Ntuli told City Press to “f**k off”.

The document continues: “After we (the Sunday Times) explained to her (Pule) that Ntuli was not one of our sources?.?.?.?she claimed Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration Ayanda Dlodlo was maybe our source because she (Pule) refused to facilitate a business deal between Telkom and one of Dlodlo’s business associates. You can verify the information with Sono.”

Pule’s spokesperson, Siya Qoza, said the minister would not undermine the committee’s work by responding to these matters.

Dlodlo’s spokesperson, Dumisani Nkwamba, said if Pule made such comments, Dlodlo “would be deeply concerned”.

Dlodlo denies leaking information about Pule and said she had never asked the minister to facilitate a Telkom deal on behalf of a business partner.

Sunday Times editor Phylicia Oppelt said the newspaper was concerned the committee “might reach a finding based on partial or incomplete evidence” and felt obliged to cooperate in the investigation.

“Ms Pule’s actions are a matter of great public interest and that is where the focus should remain.”

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