#FakeNews: Paul O'Sullivan calls out the Sunday Times

Forensic consultant Paul O'Sullivan has given the Sunday Times an ultimatum: Retract a number of stories or face a boycott. File Image: IOL

Forensic consultant Paul O'Sullivan has given the Sunday Times an ultimatum: Retract a number of stories or face a boycott. File Image: IOL

Published Oct 10, 2018


CAPE TOWN - Forensic consultant Paul O'Sullivan has given the Sunday Times an ultimatum: Retract a number of stories or face a boycott. 

O'Sullivan is potentially waging a war against the Sunday Times at its proposed use of fake news aligned to a political agenda.

O'Sullivan told 702 radio and the Sunday Times in an open letter that he is demanding the paper retract stories relating to activities at the South African Revenue Service (Sars), Johan Booysen, the former Kwazulu-Natal Hawks chief, and lastly former Hawks executives Anwa Dramat and Shadrack Sibiya.

O'Sullivan is accusing the Sunday Times of creating three narratives. 

O’Sullivan email to Sunday Times editor Bongani Siqoko, as published by BizNews states:

Good morning Bongani,

I refer to your tongue-in-cheek editorial of yesterday ( Published on Sunday 7 October 2018).

Quite frankly, it’s far too glib, far too little and far too late.

Apart from the one meeting we had, you have failed and/or refused to engage with me in a transparent manner. As a significant victim of State Capture, I have an unalienable right to see those responsible for my repeated searches, arrests, torture and the attack on my small children, being held accountable.

For the Sunday Times to claim credits for the Zondo Commission could be likened to Joseph Goebbels claiming credit for the Nuremberg Trials.

Ironically, you said:

“Sources will always have their own motives, and it falls to us as journalists and editors to question and uncover the motive before publication.”

Yet, only weeks ago, one of your journalists was knee-deep in a fake-news story put together by a criminal syndicate, aimed at tarnishing my name, my lawyer’s name and the name of the head of IPID. The motive for the fake news, was to get criminals of the hook and turn the tide against the forces of law and order.

‘You can trust the Sunday Times’, is therefore a blatant lie, which is proven by your recent mafia supporting article, loaded with lies and dishonest journalism, after a supposed ‘tip-off’. We all know the tip-off came from a criminal, on Phahlane’s payroll and was aimed at bolstering Phahlane’s desperate attempt at evading justice:

I record that I did not even have WhatsApp until a few months ago, yet your story was based on a period in late 2016 early 2017.

Despite your assistance to the Phahlane criminal syndicate, it won’t change anything, he will still go to prison. Get yourself a Ouija Board and speak to Selebi. 

Him and his spin doctors tried every trick in the book and failed to keep him out of jail. Radovan Krejcir paid off a journalist at IOL to write garbage about me, he still got 35 years. Yet there are still journalists and editors out there, prepared to have a go at me, to protect criminals. Well I’m done putting up with it and I am coming for you.

As far as the Sunday Times is concerned, I shall go on record as stating:

Without the Sunday Times, State Capture would not have been possible. Your fake news stories with the threads ‘SARS Rogue Unit’ as well as ‘Zimbabwe Renditions’ and ‘Cato Manor Death Squad’, were ‘planted’ by Richard Mduli’s accomplices, using two chequebook journalists, that are still on the payroll of Tiso Blackstar, having been discretely moved within the corporate mist.

The Sunday Times fake-news stories were nothing more than a carefully orchestrated plot to CAPTURE the criminal justice system.

That one man could be actively engaged in State Capture, then seek to profit from it by writing a book titled ‘Licence to Loot’, is just unbelievable. 

The audacity of criminals fails to amaze me.

Without the Sunday Times, the Capture of the criminal justice system would NOT have been possible.

The Capture of the criminal justice system was a chosen strategy to prevent the overall projects of State Capture from being derailed, as an uncaptured criminal justice systems would have gone after the Zuptoids, not those of us that were trying to expose them.

Dramat, Booysen and Sibiya would not have acquiesced to State Capture by hiding the dockets in a dark corner of Shawn Abrahams office. In fact Abrahams himself would have been toast.

Neither Anwar Dramat, nor Shadrack Sibiya would have had me hauled off a plane to London with my two minor children and subjected me to false imprisonment and torture for three days.

Neither would Dramat had allowed my legal advisor to kidnapped and driven around for hours before being dumped at a rural police station, with instructions to the station staff that she was not there.

Likewise Dramat would not have allowed Ntlemeza’s goons to breach a court order by again arresting me.

Neither Dramat or Sibiya would have repeatedly raided my offices, in the hope of finding and destroying the evidence I held.

Since it is now clear using the ‘but for’ analogy (the opposite in legal terms of ‘novus actus interviniens’) that, but for the Sunday Times, the criminal justice system would not have been captured. 

Accordingly, it follows, that; But for the capture of the criminal justice system, I would not have been dragged off a plane and; But for the capture of the criminal justice system State Capture Sarah-Jane Trent would not have been kidnapped, and; But for the capture of the criminal justice system State Capture as we know it would been a miserable failure with all the suspects rounded up and in prison.

Under Dramat and Sibiya, the multiple serious criminal cases opened by Forensics for Justice against Dudu Myeni, Jacob Zuma, Edward Zuma, Thalente Myeni, Duduzane Zuma, Yusuf Kajee, the Bhana’s, Jen Chi Huang, Lucky Montana, General Moonoo, General Phahlane, General Ntlemeza, Minister Nhleko and a whole host of others, would have been properly investigated and people would have been arrested and charged. 

This would have effectively HALTED State Capture.

Accordingly, the Sunday Times, belong with KPMG, Hogan Lovells, ENS Africa, ANN7, The New Age, Bell Pottinger, McKinsey, Bain & Co and all the other dregs of society that thought they could get rich quick from state capture. 

I have said it before and I will say it again and again and again, The Sunday Times are the enemy of the people.

I’m giving you one last chance, to make a change for the better and my demand is really quite simple:

An unequivocal retraction of all three fake news stories: ‘SARS Rogue Unit’ as well as ‘Zimbabwe Renditions’ and ‘Cato Manor Death Squad’

An admission that your journalists and editorial team were ‘captured’ and therefore played a significant role in State Capture.

You and the journalists in question hand back the award they received for the fake news stories.

A full FRONT PAGE contrite apology to all the people of South Africa, including, but not limited to, myself, Sarah-Jane Trent, Anwar Dramat, Shadrack Sibiya, Johan Booysen, the SARS Three, Pravin Gordhan, Ivan Pillay, Glynis Breytenbach, Robert McBride, Matthews Sesoko, Innocent Khuba, Mandla Mahlangu and Temane Binang.

A public undertaking NOT to write stories fed to you by criminals in the future, like you clearly did on 2018-09-16. If you would have bothered to check the motives, you would have quickly realised you were being played, yet again!

Should you fail and/or refuse to comply with the admissions and rectification activities stated above, Forensics for Justice will start canvassing ALL advertisers that buy space in Sunday Times, with a formal request for them to boycott the Sunday Times, until it admits its facilitative role in State Capture and takes steps to remediate the situation.

Since it is clear that SANEF is also captured, in that they attempt to block freedom of speech by citizens, with dishonest and false media releases, I will also turn on them, should they take sides. Their silence was palpable whilst Sunday Times, ANN7, New Age and Bell Pottinger were engaged in State Capture, they therefore have no moral ground to stand on in defending dishonest media outlets.

It’s time the Media-Mafia of South Africa are held fully accountable for their role in State Capture and, since they will not self-regulate themselves, then it is up to the public to stop them. It’s clear SANEF is well past it’s sell-by-date and are now part of the problem rather than being part of the solution.

I’m done being trashed, like I have been over the years, by dishonest journalists and their editors. From now on its ‘no more Mr Nice Guy’. Next you or the clowns at SANEF rattle my cage, prepare to be bitten.

You have SEVEN days to climb down off your high-horse and do the right thing, or prepare for a revenue boycott. I will gladly pay for an articled clerk to sit at the offices of Forensics for Justice and drive Tiso Blackstar shareholder value into the ground, if its managers cannot properly admit to their role in State Capture.

My rights are reserved.


Sunday Times editor Bongani Siqoko reported,on Sunday in an opinion piece, that despite the negative press readers hold, trust the paper and its content. 

His statement read: 

Over the past few weeks there have been calls for the Sunday Times to publicly account, apologise and testify before judicial commissions about its role and involvement in state capture. 

While some of these calls are genuine and come from people who care deeply about this newspaper, the most vocal has been from a group of people who want you, our loyal reader, to doubt whether this newspaper can still be trusted.

So let's deal with that question. Can the Sunday Times be trusted after everything it did just three years ago? The answer is a resounding yes. 

You can trust the Sunday Times. You can trust me, its editor, and you can trust the team that is entrusted with the most difficult task in South African media, that of putting together this great newspaper every week.

Today I want to thank you for your continued support - especially through what has been the most difficult time in the life of this newspaper. The Sunday Times has always derived its authority and mandate from the public trust. It subscribes to the principles and values of transparency, accountability and honesty. Getting to the truth is integral to our mission and values. Our credibility and integrity depend on these values.

It is for this reason that I took a decision in 2016 to re-examine our reporting on the South African Revenue Service (Sars), to apologise for errors made and reach out to the people affected. This work continues. I am willing to provide clarity and explain this decision in any forum.

On discovering weaknesses in our internal verification systems that might have led to our failure to interrogate the motive of our sources, I not only apologised but wrote to you to promise a complete overhaul of the newspaper's systems and structures.

Now it is time to report back to you about what we have been doing. The past two-and-a-half years have been a most difficult but fulfilling period for this newspaper. 

We have spent a lot of time focusing on strengthening our systems, editorial processes and newsdesk structures to ensure that every piece of information is authenticated and verified, and that sources' motives are interrogated, in accordance with the press code and our own editorial policy.

We have completely transformed our work flows. Two years ago we were a newsroom that worked the whole week generating content for one product. Now we are a fully integrated newsroom that creates and publishes content across five platforms - TimesLIVE, Times Select, Business Times, Lifestyle and the Sunday Times. We are now a seven-day publishing operation with rolling shifts and multiple deadlines. We have strengthened our news-gathering and editing processes across our three newsdesks, in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

We have shut down the investigations unit. We recruited competent senior journalists and copy editors, and all reporters now report directly to one of nine news editors. We have also created an environment in which news stories, sources and their motives are robustly interrogated. Content is discussed openly and there are no secret meetings where stories are discussed by a select few.

Lastly, we have opened up our editors' conferences to any member of staff who wants to make input on stories, as we believe that this enhances our news-gathering and editing process.

We have the right processes and systems, and we have the right people in the right places. These changes have already yielded results for us. In the past two years, we have broken many stories without any comeback. It was this newspaper that first told you about former minister Des van Rooyen's 24-hour mystery visit to Dubai - long before it was confirmed in the leaked Gupta e-mails.

Our reporters told you about how defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula used your tax rands to fly to the Democratic Republic of Congo to collect her son's 28-year-old Burundian girlfriend. Last year we saved the public purse millions of rands when we exposed plans by Eskom to give its former CEO, Brian Molefe, an irregular and illegal R30m pension payout.

When former president Jacob Zuma wanted to surprise all of us by appointing Molefe as his finance minister, it was the Sunday Times that exposed it.

Today we have the state capture commission partly because of the role the Sunday Times has played

I could go on.

To us this comes naturally. This is what we do. This is our role as the biggest newspaper in the country. We break stories that matter to South Africans. We set the agenda and drive the national conversation about the direction this country is taking. We hold the powerful to account. Today we have the state capture commission partly because of the role the Sunday Times has played.

There are growing calls for us to expose the sources in our Sars stories. The press code and our editorial policy place a fundamental duty on us to protect our sources. Doing otherwise is a negation of the ethical practice of journalism.

The only time I am willing to discard this protection is when we can show that sources intentionally provided false information to us, or subsequently, without justifiable cause, distanced themselves from the information they provided.

In the majority of cases in the Sars stories, we failed to conduct our own verification. Therefore, passing the buck would be a dereliction of our ethical duty. Sources will always have their own motives, and it falls to us as journalists and editors to question and uncover the motive before publication.

As editor of the Sunday Times, I have and will continue to account to you, the reader, to the general public and to regulatory and other public bodies for my and the newspaper's actions and decisions.


Twitter user Khaya Sithole said the O'Sullivan did not hold back when he came after the Sunday Times. 

Paul O'Sullivan went deep on the @SundayTimesZA😨😨😨

— Khaya Sithole (@CoruscaKhaya) October 8, 2018

Neil Johnson, however, critized O'Sullivan. 

Paul O’Sullivan is as deep as a saucer.

— Neil Johnson (@neiljohnsonza) October 8, 2018

MaDlamini said: 

Paul O’Sullivan dropping names of corrupt journalists on @Eusebius’ show. He he he!

Hello dear, it is a Tuesday. You need a chair.

— MaDlamini (@SpokyJama) October 9, 2018

University of Cape Town lecturer, Jacques Rousseau, tweeted: 

What an ugly mess this is. (And Paul O’Sullivan’s intervention will keep it running (which is not a judgment) https://t.co/0aScqz3S0A). https://t.co/FwW4MTA3td

— Jacques Rousseau (@JacquesR) October 9, 2018

Dorrien Venables did not hide his praise for O’Sullivan.

Yay for Paul O'Sullivan, ST should have known better should be thoroughly taken to task for its actions, complete loss of credibility does not account for the damage it caused.

— Dorrien Venables (@DorrienVenables) October 9, 2018

User Thami said that the Financial mail has a responsibility to apologise. 

You guys must personally apologize to all the people who's lives have been ruined by your propaganda of fake news.Paul O'Sullivan is going to take you to the cleaners.

— Thami (@Thami02673375) October 9, 2018


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