Journalist Thandeka Gqubule gives EFF one week to prove apartheid spy claims, or pay up

Veteran journalist, and one of the "SABC 8", Thandeka Gqubule has given the EFF one week to prove allegations that she and Anton Harber were apartheid-era Stratcom spies.

In an interview with Karima Brown on Talk Radio 702 on Wednesday evening, Gqubule revealed that she had obtained declassified documents proving that Stratcom was, in fact, spying on her.

On April 4, 2018, now defunct HuffPost SA posted a video clip of an interview conducted with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in June 2017. The interview was arranged after the screening of the documentary Winnie, which was also broadcast on Wednesday, April 11, 2018, on eNCA.

In the video clip Madikizela-Mandela makes references Gqubule, Harber and Nomavenda Mathiane. She says Gqubule was negatively disposed towards her and that the Weekly Mail, which Harber founded and edited in the 1980s, was "anti-me and anti-ANC". She then says the Weekly Mail "actually did the job for Stratcom".

Following this, the EFF issued a statement calling on Gqubule and Harber specifically to "to confess and ask for forgiveness".

News24 reported in April that Gqubule planned to apply to the High Court for the declassification of documents that would clear her name.

The accused journalists have since approached the courts to force the red berets to retract the statement – plus they want R1m in damages.

Former HuffPost SA editor Pieter du Toit apologised to Gqubule, Harber and Mathiane for publishing the video.

"The publication of the video and resulting reaction on social media, as well as statements by various political actors in society, should have been avoided.

"We failed to seek out comment from Harber, Gqubule and Mathiane before publishing the untested allegations by Madikizela-Mandela, and we failed to provide proper context to the history," Du Toit wrote at the time.

'It's going to go down to the wire'

Gqubule told Brown about the process she had followed to get the classified documents and how the accusation had impacted on her life.

"We applied to the State Security Agency, which I said I would do at the moment of accusation. We applied to military intelligence, police intelligence, crime intelligence and all intelligence agencies," Gqubule said.

This was to obtain files and information that these agencies kept on Gqubule’s activities as a journalist while employed by the Weekly Mail.

Asked whether she was victimised by colleagues following the publication of the video, Gqubule said: "There were colleagues of mine who were very close to the EFF; there was one particular colleague who told me ahead of discussing it with other people; put it in all the WhatsApp groups at the SABC that once a spy always a spy, told me to my face and actually incited other colleagues against me.

"I took it as part of the victimisation process that all whistleblowers in organisations that have lost their moral compass, in organisations that have experienced capture and a disintegration like the SABC of old. This was the price we had to pay."

Gqubule told Brown that she would go to all lengths to have the EFF pay for the damage they had caused with their accusations.

"I will do whatever is necessary so that those people who fight for a vulnerable truth in the face of populism have got money to fund their fights. I have all the energy in the world to take it to the hills. It's going to go down to the wire," she said.

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