Sunday Times cautions readers against smear campaign
The Sunday Times has been drawn into a smear campaign the apparent purpose of which is to divert attention from the explosive testimony of former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi.
"Agrizzi’s testimony is exposing a number of people who have a lot to lose. Readers and citizens can expect to see more attempts to create diversions and muddy the waters as more evidence of wrongdoing by powerful people comes to light at the Zondo commission," said the newspaper in a statement.
This comes after attempts to attack the integrity of the paper and to discredit its front-page story surfaced this week in the form of an open – but fake - letter.
The letter, which was widely circulated on social media, was purportedly written by a Sunday Times journalist and alleges that the editor, Bongani Siqoko, forced the reporter to fabricate a story and "create a link" between Agrizzi’s testimony at the commission of inquiry into state capture and Jacob Zuma as well as Dudu Myeni, Nomvula Mokonyane and Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
Farida Joyce, the journalist whose name is attached to the statement, has denied writing it. She also confirmed that she has never been employed at the Sunday Times.
The letter went on to claim that the newspaper had instituted disciplinary procedures against the journalist for refusing to link her story on former Bosasa COO-turned whistle-blower Agrizzi, to Jacob Zuma.
"Sunday Times editor Bongani Siqoko gave no instruction to Farida Joyce - who does not, and never has, worked at the Sunday Times - to fabricate links between Dudu Myeni and the NPA, or between Bosasa and Jacob Zuma, Nomvula Mokonyane or Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
"The Sunday Times does not fabricate stories. Nor does the evidence before the commission need embellishment - the revelations are shocking and they require a detailed rebuttal from those named instead of a threadbare propaganda campaign on social media," the newspaper said.
Joyce also took to social media and distanced herself from the letter, calling it lies and fake news.
"This article was NOT written by me and I would like to distance myself from the article. It's fake news. I have never worked at the @SundayTimesZA - someone else has used my name to write lies," she tweeted.