Open letter to amaBhungane from Zunaid Moti

Businessman Zunaid Moti. Image: Supplied.

Businessman Zunaid Moti. Image: Supplied.

Published Jul 21, 2023


Dear Sam Sole and amaBhungane sponsors

I was fortunate today to have been forwarded a set of new questions shared with the Moti Group as part of your sensational article series and targeted smear campaign relying on stolen documents from within the Group.

Centred on an internal matter that took place towards the end of 2021 when I was still active in the business, these questions were most bemusing – especially given that you have justified your continued possession of the documents as “within the public interest”.

It’s evident that you have some type of paid agenda to drive your fake news, but sooner or later your motives and financiers will be found out.

But while the Moti Group is patiently compiling detailed responses to your pestering, I am no longer with the Group – as you well know.

And so, I feel no compunction in bursting the bubble on your blatant attempts to divert attention away from your own sordid internal affairs (shielding your chair, accused sexual predator Tawana Kupe) by setting the record straight on a few things.

For all those who are unaware, the questions relate to a former executive at the Moti Group who parted ways with the Group blitsig after I became aware of sexual harassment claims against him, amongst other issues.

Despite a lack of evidence in the matter, I strongly believed that even if there was one percent chance that the claims were correct, we still needed to give the complainants 100% of the benefit of the doubt.

The ladies were therefore given settlements to assist with any of their needs and were advised to pursue legal remedies if they felt it necessary. They chose not to do so, and the executive never faced civil charges.

Ultimately, I treated the matter seriously and acted swiftly (literally within days) to address the situation. In fact, because I was party to a similar matter as what you are dealing with, I would have expected supposedly reputable journalists such as yourselves to act in the same manner and with the same urgency that I did.

I have daughters, just as I presume many of your staff do, and I would hope that other organisations such as yours would take these matters seriously as well.

I apologise for “scooping” your story, but as you can see, I have nothing to hide – unlike yourselves.

However, here is a critical extract from amaBhungane’s questions that finally lays your true nature bare for all the world to see:

You have often claimed to be credible investigative journalists, yet you are utilising resources and the contributions made by your sponsors to act like a tabloid out for revenge.

And all the while, you continue to protect a man who was found guilty of sexual harassment at a major educational institution, the University of the Witwatersrand, in 2016.

First, there can be no clearer demonstration of your personal agenda and questionable motives in persisting with these articles. Your questions were obviously formulated as a “tit for tat” rather than out of any real or professional journalistic interest – despite continuously hiding behind your façade of neutrality and objectivity as reporters.

Second, to reiterate again, I have stepped away from the Moti Group to focus on my private affairs.

I can only share my personal views and my time at the company before the new leadership was appointed. The Moti Group cannot speak for me, nor myself for the Group.

Next, I strongly believe that you are the true hypocrites. Consider that your “former” chairman Tawana Kupe is still a director on the board of your organisation and that you still refer to him as your chair, even now.

The allegations against him were published by other media many weeks ago, yet you still have not severed ties with him.

He is still registered as a director of amaBhungane on the CIPC system, although it would take just 48 hours to update the registry and have his name removed.

Additionally, the Moti Group is a private, family-owned company, the matter took place many months ago, and the executive referenced left the Group as soon as the allegations against him surfaced.

But your own organisation claims to be an “investigative journalism” group that serves the public.

So, how can you have decided that this “case” is in the public interest, while your own dirty laundry is supposedly not?

To date, you have published many stories to suit your own false narrative and make a name at my expense – but none of the stories have truly landed, for the simple reason that your allegations and innuendoes are false.

But you continue to throw dung at the wall to see what sticks, instead of truly digging up dirt where it matters and would serve the public for good.

The poor ethics you have shown are an embarrassment to good and fair journalism. All media and your sponsors should take note of the way in which you continue to protect your own.

Why did News24 have to report on your chair?

You obviously could not or would not investigate the matter personally, in violation of your own duties.

Are you eating from the same poisonous apple tree that Kupe allegedly plucked his own apples from to signal his interest in young female students?

Perhaps an apple a day is the secret to keeping amaBhungane away.

Meanwhile, like a tabloid, you continue to pester and harass me.

It is extremely disturbing that you are willing to make this former executive and the vulnerable women involved collateral damage in your self-declared war against me, although I am a private businessman and rehashing the story will not serve any public good.

In 1839, English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote that “the pen is mightier than the sword”. But I think that he would hang his head in shame to see pens being used as weapons to pursue personal vendettas by those riding the high horse of their own agendas. Objective, impartial reporting is dead. Long live the news!

I will end this letter with a further request on behalf of the public, your sponsors, and myself.

I’ve shared a set of questions that demand answers.

Are you brave and ethical enough to respond?