Ranjeni Munusamy: 'I deny the allegations levelled against me at Zondo commission'
Senior Tiso Blackstar Group journalist Ranjeni Munusamy has denied allegations levelled against her at the state capture inquiry on Wednesday.
She was responding to testimony by Hawks officer Col Kobus Roelofse, who claimed her car had been paid off with money from a secret Crime Intelligence slush fund in 2008.
"I deny the allegations made against me at the Zondo commission today [Wednesday]. They are baseless. I am working with my lawyers to draft a response to the allegations for the commission, with whom I am cooperating fully," Munusamy, the group's associate editor, said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.
Roelofse said an amount of R143,621.78 was allegedly paid into a WesBank Vehicle Finance account in the settlement of a vehicle registered in Munusamy's name in 2008, when she was self-employed.
Roelofse said he had learnt of the alleged payments while investigating claims of corruption involving crime intelligence officers and a Centurion-based vehicle dealership, Atlantis Motors.
However, there was some confusion at the inquiry around Munusamy's full name, with the commission receiving a letter pointing out that the bank account was in the name of Navaranjeni Munusamy; and not Ranjeni Munusamy, as she was called in Roelofse's affidavit. Ranjeni is a shortened version of Navaranjeni.
By mutual consent with Tiso Blackstar Group, Munusamy has been placed on special leave to allow her to deal with the allegations.
Tiso Blackstar Group said in a statement that Munusamy had not been engaged by any of its titles or companies during the period covered by these allegations. She only joined Tiso Blackstar in 2017, from the Daily Maverick.
"The company was unaware of any investigation involving Munusamy. At the time she was engaged as an independent contractor."
Tiso Blackstar said it had also launched an internal investigation.
"Tiso Blackstar Group notes the extremely serious allegations against journalist Ranjeni Munusamy disclosed by a witness before the Zondo commission of inquiry," the statement said.
"We adhere to the doctrine of presumption of innocence until proven guilty and the principles of natural justice that include hearing both sides of the story. However, we have granted her special leave considering the gravity of these allegations. The editor of the Sunday Times, Bongani Siqoko, commenced with internal investigations on Wednesday as soon as the commission notified Munusamy of these allegations.
"The company will make a final decision on this matter following the conclusion of its own internal investigations, taking into consideration the company’s interests, its policies and Munusamy’s rights."
* This article has been updated to reflect the contents of a statement issued by Munusamy on Wednesday afternoon