DoC calls for Sunday Times apology

The Department of Communications says it is ‘astounded’ by the ‘extraordinary attack’ and persistent smear campaign being waged by the Sunday Times against minister Dina Pule.

The Sunday Times alleges that Pule’s boyfriend, Phosane Mngqibisa, orchestrated the appointment of friends and family to key organisations under her portfolio.

In February, The Sunday Times also reported that Mngqibisa was paid R6-million in management fees for the 2012 ICT Indaba.

The department said it believes that the Sunday paper is guilty of breaching the Press Code and called on the publication to apologise to the minister.

“The minister intends to approach the Press Ombudsman as the Sunday Times has consistently breached the Press Code by running what is clearly a politically motivated
smear campaign against the minister.

“For more than nine months now, the Sunday Times has been running a series of fabricated stories with the clear intention to tarnish the reputation of minister Pule.

“The articles have defamed the good name of minister Pule and were clearly designed to violate her dignity. The minister reserves her right to take further legal action in this regard,” the DoC said in a statement.

The department said that random use by Sunday Times of unnamed “sources”, without any attempt to state their credibility and especially their independence, amounted to a serious breach of the Press Code.

“No shred of evidence has been presented by the Sunday Times against minister Pule since the smear campaign began nine months ago,” it said.

“What the Sunday Times has done is to elevate allegations and opinion as fact, which was misleading to readers.”

The DoC claimed that the most recent article, which appeared on Sunday 24 March is littered with unverified, inaccurate, incorrect and unsupported allegations.

“The malicious suggestion made by the Sunday Times that the Minister has ceded control of her portfolio to person outside the department is a serious insult.

“The Sunday Times’ reckless Editors have not provided any evidence to support this serious allegation which has been presented as a fact,” the DoC said.

The DoC accused the Editors at the Sunday Times of becoming personally involved in the political smear campaign against Pule. “The intention is not to inform the public but to demonize minister Pule and find her guilty in the court of public opinion,” it said.

The department said it gave a detailed account of the minister’s involvement in the SABC saga, which is in line with the regulations that govern the relationship between the minister and the SABC board in relation to the appointments of executives at the broadcaster.

That explanation did not appear in the article on Sunday, it said.

“There isn’t even a reference to it. This suggests the Sunday Times is not prepared to entertain facts that stand in the way of their manufactured story.”

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DoC calls for Sunday Times apology