Charges meant to intimidate me — journalist

2010-09-08 00:00

SUNDAY Times journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika said the charges against him, provisionally dropped yesterday, are just a failed attempt to intimidate him.

Speaking to The Witness last night, Wa Afrika said his arrest in August has proved he is a stronger person and a journalist than the Hawks had thought.

The charges, he said, “were meant to intimidate me. It was gross abuse of power and taxpayers’ money.”

Wa Afrika said the charges against him were trumped up. He was disappointed with the Hawks for having made the arrest before conducting an investigation and instead did things the wrong way around.

Regarding Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele’s labelling him a “very shady journalist”, Wa Afrika said he wouldn’t stoop to Cele’s level by responding.

“Any journalist is regarded as an enemy of the state,” he said, noting that during the debate on the media tribunal ANC spokesperson]Jackson Mthembu said he regarded the media as the opposition party.

Wa Afrika said he had resisted his family’s call for him to leave journalism for another profession as they feared for his life.

Hawks spokesperson Colonel Lindela Mashego said he believes the Hawks have enough evidence against Wa Afrika and his co-accused, Victor Mlimi, but the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) believes further investigations are necessary before the case can be brought to court.

Mlimi is a deputy director of the Mpumalanga Department of Human Settlements.

The two were due to have returned to court on November 8.

Mashego said the court will decide whether items seized during their arrest will be returned.

The charges relate to alleged possession of a resignation letter by Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza, which the presidency has said is a fake.

After the two were kept in custody, charges were withdrawn the following day, then reinstated. An order issued by the high court in Pretoria had him released ahead of his bail hearing.

Sunday Times editor Ray Hartley yesterday said General Cele “owes Wa Afrika an apology. A big one.”

Wa Afrika’s lawyer, Eric van den Berg, said they have been notified of the NPA’s intentions and are pleased. “It has a been a shadow over him,” he said.

Some critics believe the arrests are related to a story Wa Afrika had co-written about a R500 million police headquarters lease agreement that Cele allegedly agreed without going to tender.

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