Press Club calls for probe into journo spying

2010-12-20 12:00

Johannesburg - The National Press Club on Monday called for an urgent investigation into a claim that a Sunday Independent journalist was being tailed and her phone tapped following a report containing allegations of fraud and corruption in the police's crime intelligence division.

"The allegations are very worrying and the police have a lot of questions to answer" said club chairpersonYusuf Abramjee in a statement.

The publication reported that Gcwalisile Khanyile became aware that she had became placed under surveillance after the High Court in Johannesburg granted an order preventing further publication of corruption allegations contained in a story she wrote.

The publication is appealing this judgment.

In the meantime, according to the report on December 20, Khanyile "discovered that agents had been assigned to follow her and that her cellphone had been tapped", the newspaper said.

Editor Makhuru Sefara said they had information showing this, and that operatives had been instructed to befriend their reporters "with a view to infiltrating our - and other - newsrooms across the country".

An unnamed reporter at The Star was allegedly approached by a known intelligence officer "with promises of money and exclusive stories in return for her to work as a spy for the cops", the report continued.

Khanyile's relatives and a friend in Gauteng received calls allegedly from intelligence agents asking for personal information on her.

As a result, the publication said it was lodging a complaint with the Inspector General of Intelligence, Faith Radebe.

Sefara was not immediately available to comment, and police intelligence spokesperson Colonel Tummi Shai told Sapa they would not comment immediately.

Serious implications

Abramjee said if the allegations were true, the implications were serious.

"We agree with lawyers for the Sunday Independent that covert surveillance, interception and monitoring of communications and intimidation of journalists cannot fall within the scope of lawful activities permitted by the relevant legislation."

Legislation governing such matters include the Secret Service Act, the Constitution and the Intelligence Act.

Abramjee called for the head of crime intelligence, Richard Mduli, to be suspended with immediate effect pending the probe.

The report comes amid controversy over the Protection of Information Bill which in its original form would have enabled state functionaries, even at municipal level, to classify any government information under the broad term of "in the national interest". This would also have included commercial information. This bill then criminalises and sets out lengthy jail terms for possession of such information. Critics are concerned that it can be abused when reporters or members of the public seek or find information to prove corruption or mismanagement.

The committee would meet again in January for further work on the bill.

During the apartheid era it was not uncommon for some reporters to be paid by security forces to spy on their colleagues or pass on information gleaned from sources.

  • hawksnr - 2010-12-20 12:15

    What else is new with this Monkey parade we have for policeman, easy to cover-up their shit!!

      ir8m8 - 2010-12-20 15:34

      and you think that our previous govt didn't do the same thing...

      mrdanger006 - 2010-12-20 19:57

      @ ir8m8 yes the previous government did all the time, but i thought we had now moved forward to a better and free society, looks like this government is just as bad as the last.

  • mzansi2011 - 2010-12-20 12:16

    Outrageous! When Ronnie Kasrils was minister one of the rules he put in place for intelligence agents was, "We are not above the law". It seems the new bunch have been given a very different brief. Nail them to the wall!

  • Concerned Citizen - 2010-12-20 12:25

    Typical. as we edge closer to becoming a police state run by a completely rotten government citizens continue to be divided on racial lines, playing into the hands of liars and thieves whose purpose is to maintain and enhance that division to keep their hands in the tax coffers. All the while us empowered South African continue our little race war and those morons on the gravy train get richer and richer at the tax payers expense. Well done citizens of SA for acting precisely how the ANC want you to act while they laugh all the way to the bank.

      FrankLee - 2010-12-20 13:34

      I fully agree with your assessment. Question is what do you propose to do about it as non-black citizens, since it's the majority black[real black, not nominal black] voters who put the government in power? It's also those same voters who, when confronted with the obvious corruption and asked to vote for another party will straightforwardly tell you they don't want the non-blacks to rule - they [quite ironically] don't want to go back to the apartheid system!!! Hatred for anything non-black is simply the overriding factor. Just before anyone wants to throw the "racist" toys out of the cot, please get real and face what is there - people still carry the hurt of segregation with them and they still base a lot of decisions on those feelings, rightly or wrongly so. In this case it's more than convenient to group people by those old labels, because it reflects the sentiments involved. My take on it would be that the non-blacks should try their utmost to learn Zulu and Xhosa and draw nearer to blacks thru frienships and friendliness. This might lead to influencing voting - not necessary that the DA [or other large opposition] should win, but that then ANC should barely scrape through and even need to form a coalition. This should put them into a place where they can BEGIN to respect the citizens. Currently they have only utter contempt for us.

      KaiinSA - 2010-12-20 14:09

      Wonder how the country would fair if only the people who paid tax were allowed to vote?

      ir8m8 - 2010-12-20 15:43

      @KaiinSA, all SA citizens are allowed to vote, welcome to the new SA. @Franklee, we employ a strategy in SA, which starts at grass roots, to keep the masses, wanting, needing and stupid, because thats exactly how we hold onto our power. You seem to miss the massive factor in your assesment, the one of revenge, because the transition was so "peaceful" and the whitees weren't made to "give it all back", we inherently created a sub-culture of "i am now entitled to take (liberate)". It makes no difference of how correct an opinion of a white person is, the mere fact that its comming from a white makes it wrong. We will endure all sorts of bad goverment because that allows us to bitch and moan, it allows us extra holidays (toyi-toyi) and its all validated, but no-ways will we even contemplate white or any other form of non-african rule...

  • Terence - 2010-12-20 12:33

    Everything goes full circle. In the old days if you said anything against the Nats you were labelled a Communist now if you say anything controversial about this so called Government you are labelled an Imperialist! Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  • PikeLee - 2010-12-20 12:44

    One step closer to zim

      Itoldyouso - 2010-12-20 16:44

      You are so right!

  • - 2010-12-20 12:45

    The old saying goes "where there is know the rest, and the dictatorship is being questioned, and like SANUPF and Bob's eliteist protectors, we see that starting to happen here. Protection for the unjust and wicked cops, guess this journalist best be aware - she might well dissappear. The Cops are a law unto themselves.

      MarkStruwig - 2010-12-20 14:53

      No they are just criminals

  • MarkStruwig - 2010-12-20 14:52

    Welcome back Apartheid... is that a new dress?

  • MarkStruwig - 2010-12-20 14:54

    Wonder when we will get locked up for being white?

  • ir8m8 - 2010-12-20 15:35

    and so dawns the death of democracy is SA, Viva the comunist republic of Mzanzi...Viva! Malema will be the next president, mark my words, the socialist are comming!!!

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