ICTU outraged by ‘unfair play' against Iqbal Survé, Sekunjalo, Independent Media
JOHANNESBURG – The Information and Communication Technology Union (ICTU) on Tuesday expressed its outrage at the unlawful conduct perpetrated against the Sekunjalo Group and called on the country’s authorities to beef up and to fast-track their investigations to uncover and bring to book anyone involved in these acts of intimidation and threats to life and limb.
This after a team of top Western Cape police detectives has been assembled to probe a complaint of intimidation by Executive Chairperson of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings and Independent Media Dr Iqbal Survé, after he received a text message in the early hours of the morning last month alerting him that someone had been sent to tamper with his vehicle.
The ICTU’s Thabang Mothelo said on Tuesday that no individual should live in a constant state of fear for their lives in democratic South Africa. “The safety and security of all people have been seriously compromised in this country where the premium on human lives is very low. It is not far fetched to suspect the possibility of even members of the union falling under the radar of these unlawful and dangerous eavesdroppers.”
Executives of companies in the Sekunjalo Investment Holdings on Monday expressed their shock and outrage following the discovery their phones had been tapped.
Also tapped were the phones of some of Survé’s family members. Charles Abrahams, a Cape Town lawyer rendering services to the group which includes companies such as AYO Technology Solutions, Independent Media and African Equity Empowerment Investments Limited, also suspected that his phone had been illegally intercepted.
The ICTU said it had noted with grave concern reports of suspected illegal surveillance and bugging of Sekunjalo Group communication systems and possibly the mobile devices of other executives.
Sekunjalo owns the Independent News media publication where ICTU has substantial membership.
Mothelo said the reports suggested that this illicit theft of information was enhanced by a sophisticated device planted in the office building of the Sekunjalo Group. The device is capable of covering a 50-metre radius and has the potential to penetrate servers to search, copy and transmit information to third parties without the knowledge and approval of the owner.
The latest disconcerting scandal follows alongside reported complaints of attempted burglary when two unknown men gained unauthorised entry to the Sekunjalo offices very early in the morning and were caught on security cameras.
Earlier Dr Survé's vehicle was smeared with an unidentified white substance. The matter is still under SAPS laboratory investigation.
“We are aware of the immense pressures brought to bear and exacted on Sekunjalo since the Group entered the highly competitive media space. We believe that the Sekunjalo Group, through the ownership of Independent, has a right to compete fairly as a bona fide patriotic media enterprise. Only a sustained commitment to the support of a healthy diversity of voices, an appreciation of a plethora of perspectives of varying hues makes our democracy vibrant and beneficial to all.
“Industry players need to appreciate the corrosive collateral damage caused by targetting and attacking unfairly other media houses. The Independent stable and its chairperson have received disproportionately unfair and disparaging attention both as a transformative media player and entrepreneur but also at a personal level.
“Factual, evidence-based reporting and coverage should be the order of the day and not what seems to have taken root and propagated over the years since the entry of Sekunjalo into the media ownership space,” he said.
Mothelo said a destructive cabal had formed against Sekunjalo. ”The media here and abroad has been severely decimated under the immense pressures imposed by new disruptive technologies and the relentless global economic downturn now exponentially exacerbated by the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic.
More than ever before, the media plays a seminal role in keeping the public informed. The battle for quality media is a war waged on behalf of all readers and for all citizens of the world, who have a right to access credible, reliable, truthful and quality publications to assist them in making better choices in their daily lives.
Mothelo then urged Independent and Sekunjalo employees, who might have knowledge of anything or suspect might be related to any unlawful acts within the workplace, to inform the employer or co-operate with the SAPS.