Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Sunday Independent editor defends publication of Ramaphosa affairs story

By Nomahlubi Jordaan | TimesLIVE |

In a detailed statement Steven Motale issued on Wednesday‚ which was published in IOL following the publication in the Sunday Independent newspaper of the story‚ he said he had noted with “utter disgust‚ the attempt by some elements in the media to cast aspersions on my integrity by linking me to ‘a smear campaign’ aimed at bringing down Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa”.

Sunday Independent editor Steven Motale (Picture: Tracy Lee Stark)
Sunday Independent editor Steven Motale (Picture: Tracy Lee Stark)

He said he and his team had been working on the story for months and that they had engaged different parties‚ including lawyers‚ and that it was only after “passing legal scrutiny” did the newspaper start sending questions to those implicated.

Motale said he first contacted Ramaphosa asking for his private e-mail address‚ which according to him‚ turned out to be the one he had used to communicate with the women.

“It was only after we e-mailed him questions later the same day that Ramaphosa realised his blunder. He then decided to go all out to make sure the allegations against him didn’t reach the public‚” Motale said in the statement.

Motale said he was planning to delay the publication of the story but became under “enormous” pressure when e-mails he had sent to the women and Ramaphosa were leaked.

“Since my credibility was at stake‚ the only way to defend myself and The Sunday Independent was to go ahead and publish the story.

“This put enormous pressure on me. My cell phone never stopped ringing. I was bombarded with calls by the media‚ the public and ordinary citizens who wanted me to confirm whether the questions had been sent by me.

“At the same time‚ I started receiving death threats from callers claiming to be Ramaphosa’s supporters.

Motale said Ramaphosa failed to respond to his questions and instead chose to contact Independent Media’s executive chairman Iqbal Survé‚ “begging him to make sure that The Sunday Independent would not publish the story about him”.

As a high-ranking leader of the ANC and as a presidential hopeful‚ Ramaphosa was not eligible to be given the same right to privacy that ordinary citizens enjoy‚ Motale said.

“Ramaphosa is also a person who has sold himself to South Africans as a paragon of moral virtue‚ evidence by his utterances on state capture and his condemnation of sugar daddies and ‘blessers’. His behaviour flies in the face of this.”

Motale said since the since the story was published‚ more women have come forward wanting to tell their stories involving the deputy president.

“I’ve also noted with contempt attempts by some publications to link me to Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama and businessman Kenny Kunene‚ both of whom were in court on Saturday night when Ramaphosa’s application against The Sunday Independent was heard.

“So desperate are our competitors to destroy my credibility they have forgotten a court is a public place‚” said Motale.

He said his relationship with Kunene was not a secret as they had been friends for a long time.

Motale accused the media of being biased against him and being silent when his life was under threat.

“The industry was quick – and rightfully so – to rally around the SABC Eight and to take action against Mngxitama when he threatened certain journalists. But they are silent when my life is threatened.”