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OPINION: Adriaan Basson, is it time to see Koos Bekker in an orange suit?

File photo: African News Agency (ANA)

File photo: African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 5, 2019


Cape Town - Adriaan Basson, is it time to see Koos Bekker in an Orange Suit?

Adriaan Basson, the editor-in-chief of News24, recently published a piece suggesting the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) should criminally prosecute those private sector executives who appear to be implicated in some form of criminal misconduct at the helm of their corporations. It’s not a bad idea. 

Companies such as Steinhoff, Regiments, Tongaat Hulett, Murray & Roberts, Nemai Consulting et al and their top brass, should be brought to book if they are guilty. 

However, where Basson strays from reason, is in his inclusion of Sekunjalo in the list of targets.  Again, he has fallen prey to his own rhetoric in pronouncing Sekunjalo and particularly the chairperson, Dr Iqbal Survé, as guilty of the self-same alleged criminal activity of these companies. 

I attended virtually all of the sessions at the Commission of Inquiry into alleged impropriety at the Public Investment Corporation. When it came to  Sekunjalo and its associated companies being put under the microscope, there was not a single person at the commission that implicated Sekunjalo in any corruption or wrongdoing – only those leading the evidence.

To date, no institution, agency or commission has found any evidence that Sekunjalo and its associated companies or Survé himself, for that matter, have ever been implicated in any criminal conduct whatsoever. A lot of questioning, finger-pointing, and supposition is carried out on public platforms for the purpose of sewing doubt where none existed in the first place.

I challenge Basson to prove that Sekunjalo has been implicated in wrongdoing anywhere. If he can’t, he should admit that this is all fake news. As journalists, we are constantly told to guard against misinformation and it is disappointing that the editor-in-chief of News24 appears to absolve himself of the responsibility for such misinformation. 

What then could Basson’s agenda be?

Basson of News24 and Ferial Haffajee at the Daily Maverick are part of a grouping of media houses and journalists that have decided to, at all costs, protect Pravin Gordhan. Sources within these media houses, and others, reliably indicate that it is Pravin Gordhan who regularly instructs these media houses and these journalists as to what to write. This is done to provide only one narrative for the public to see what is happening in South Africa.

Sekunjalo, the owners of Independent Media, do not fit into the strategy of this narrative and therefore have to be destroyed at all costs – in order to protect Gordhan.

As a journalist at Independent Media, the most transformed media house in South Africa, I can confirm that we have the freedom to write what we like. This means that we are free to expose the criminal conduct of people like Gordhan with the SARS Rogue Unit, and many other areas in relation to government, which Gordhan has to account for.

Independent Media was able to expose Pravin Gordhan’s central role in raising between one and two billion rand for the Cyril Ramaphosa Presidential (CR17) campaign.

Independent Media continues to expose how Pravin Gordhan is destroying state-owned enterprises (SOEs) – others are starting to see this too.

According to Irvin Jim of NUMSA, Gordhan is preparing his portfolio of SOEs for sale or privatization. I would guess that those lining up to buy the SOEs for cheap, would be friends or business associates of the very people that have funded the CR17 campaign.

Adriaan Basson and his cronies are thus creating the perception of wrongdoing on the part of Sekunjalo, possibly as a deflection for what is really going on here. It does not matter whether Sekunjalo has done anything wrong or not, because, by creating the perception and goading law enforcement agencies to act against the company, embarrass it and intimidate it, Sekunjalo can be ‘controlled’ and made to “toe the line” and made out to be guilty of all manner of false claims.

I am well aware of the adage that "he who protests too much, must have something to hide"…but consider the daring possibility, that in this case, there is nothing actually going on at Sekunjalo, and that Basson and cohort’s articles are all a smokescreen created by a cabal of poisoned pens that serve a different master other than truth.

This is the real reason why Basson sneaked in the name of Sekunjalo even though there is no evidence anywhere of Sekunjalo having been implicated in any fraud or corruption. On the contrary, Sekunjalo’s only crime in the 20 years of its existence, is that it has unashamedly promoted black advancement and transformation. This is the very thing that Adriaan Basson stands against, as is seen by his apparent friendship with the racist criminal, Agrizzi, of the now Bosasa fame. It is Basson that should be charged for corruption by keeping friends with someone that has admitted to being a racist and for partaking in grand corruption schemes with the state. Does this mean he is then guilty by association?

Basson should look closer to home, as to who should be in orange overalls.

It’s all well and good to point fingers now, but where were those fingers and pens when South Africa emerged from the dark days of apartheid?  South Africa has failed to prosecute those CEOs and executives that actively aided and abetted apartheid.   

Naspers and Media24, by their own admission, were responsible for actively supporting the apartheid government. Naspers benefited by receiving textbook contracts as well as television licenses in exchange for hiding from the South African public the atrocities and destruction which the apartheid government put black people through. We know that these executives, along with their friends during apartheid, stole tens of billions from South Africans. This is fraud and corruption on a scale, which is far greater than that which Basson refers to.

The ultimate irony of the new South Africa is that Naspers remains the largest dominant media company – the apartheid era from propaganda remains the dominant propaganda machine today. No other country or society in the world would have ever allowed a business such as Naspers, which was wholly complicit in apartheid-era crime and corruption, to exist today.

Basson’s determination to destroy Sekunjalo & Independent Media is to prevent people such as the Naspers chairman Koos Bekker, whose father was a senior officer in the apartheid security bureau, from being held accountable for his and Naspers’s role during the apartheid era. Apartheid was not so much different from the Nazi ideology, in fact, it emerged out of the Nazi ideology. The world rightly held the Nazis accountable, not just those who were responsible for pulling the trigger and rolled the dice,  but those that were responsible for the propaganda that gave Hitler the cover to commit some of the worst genocides and atrocities in our lifetime.

Why should Koos Bekker not be held accountable then? I will encourage the NPA to start with Koos Bekker and perhaps Adriaan Basson and the many others that today find themselves in the Daily Maverick, BizNews, and other publications, It is they who should be in orange overalls.

I agree with Basson that the likes of Markus Jooste, the executives of EOH and the executives of Tongaat Hulett, should face their day in court. After all, those very companies have admitted that they have committed fraud and in the case of EOH, Microsoft canceled their relationship due to corruption. No such corruption exists with Sekunjalo or Dr Iqbal Surve, so, on what basis does Basson group them together?

This ridiculous attempt to group Sekunjalo with all these other companies is nothing but an attack on black empowerment and media freedom. It will not work since South Africans are increasingly seeing through the propaganda that is being waged by those claiming to be rooting out corruption and state capture. Instead, these people with the aid of journalists such as Basson and Haffajee, are anti-democratic, anti-media freedom.  They have been commissioned to silence media such as Independent Media, that are prepared to expose those who want to use state power to loot the country. The new looters will make the Gupta family team seem like amateurs.

This then is the ultimate aim of people like Basson, and why it is he and Koos Bekker who should wear orange overalls. Perhaps it is time that citizens launch a class action suit against Naspers for their apartheid crimes? Whilst they may be protected by their friends, like Pravin Gordhan in South Africa, they would have no such protection in Amsterdam or the US. We should learn from the experiences of the post-holocaust era, where those who assisted the Nazis have been held to account and are today wearing orange overalls. Apartheid was a crime against humanity, as defined by United Nations.