Johannesburg - Police have confirmed that there is no record that Sunday Times journalists accepted bribes, its editor Ray Hartley said on Wednesday.
“This leaves me with no doubt whatsoever that our journalists are innocent of the flimsy and vague allegations made by (Colonel Kobus) Roelofse,” Hartley said in a statement.
“Their courageous reporting exposing corruption, murder and maladministration in the police has been fair, accurate and in the public interest.”
In May, Roelofse claimed that Sunday Times journalists were paid by Crime Intelligence to write a story about Zimbabweans who had been arrested and illegally returned to their home country to face brutality and murder.
The front page and page two articles, published on October 23, 2011, did not have a journalist's byline, but carried the byline “Special Report by Investigation Staff”.
The newspaper article was mentioned in an SA Police Service report by Roelofse to the commander of the Anti-Corruption Task Team.
It was made public when it was lodged in the High Court in Johannesburg with other papers by the Freedom Under Law (FUL) non-profit organisation.
FUL, represented by former World Bank director Mamphela Ramphele, initiated the court action to interdict former Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli from being given any responsibility in the police.
The Sunday Times wrote to Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and the acting commissioner of police at the time, General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, asking for evidence that its reporters had been paid bribes.
Hartley said the official reply to the newspaper's request read: “The record you requested does not exist”.
“This was further backed by a signed affidavit from Brigadier Monk Sarah Mabena, the acting head of support services at Crime Intelligence head office, who stated: 'I have personally checked all the relevant registers and files where such records would be kept, should it exist, and there are no records or proof of any records',” said Hartley.
He said the new police commissioner General Riah Phiyega should set the public record straight on the matter. - Sapa