Limpopo MEC Clifford Motsepe is suing City Press journalist Sipho Masondo, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief Ferial Haffajee and owners, Media24, for R1.2 million for defamation.
Motsepe is demanding R300 000 from Masondo, R400 000 from Haffajee and R500 000 from Media24, according to summons sent to City Press yesterday.
Motsepe, a former SABC board member and current MEC for cooperative governance, human settlements and traditional affairs, says his domestic worker was in the immediate vicinity and within earshot of him and Masondo when Motsepe allegedly bribed the newspaper’s Limpopo correspondent, Masondo, with a “wad of cash, neatly held together with an elastic band”.
Motsepe says City Press should have verified Masondo’s claims with the domestic worker.
In his affidavit, Masondo said Motsepe told him the cash was for “petrol for the weekend”.
Masondo, Haffajee and Media24 “acted unreasonably and negligently when they published or caused the publication of the article containing the offending statements,” he claims.
Motsepe, a lawyer by training, has assembled a team of heavyweight legal minds including top senior counsel Vincent Maleka and Muzi Sikhakhane, who represented expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema during his protracted disciplinary troubles with the ANC.
Motsepe, an ANC provincial executive committee member in Limpopo, believes the bribery attempt claim is “invasive and (has) far reaching impact” to his reputation as an MEC. He also says Haffajee should have reported the commission of the offence of corruption or bribery to a police official or other law enforcement agent.
He says the story portrayed him as a “corrupt person, corrupt political office bearer”.
Said Haffajee: “Brown envelope journalism is one of the biggest scourges of our craft. We are proud that our colleague reported it and we look forward to defending this in court.”