Adri Senekal De Wet is Executive Editor of Business Report and Personal Finance.
Adri Senekal De Wet is Executive Editor of Business Report and Personal Finance.

What happened to freedom of media?

By Adri S De Wet Time of article published Oct 19, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - Since I was appointed as Executive Editor of Independent Business Unit, that is Business Report (BR) and Personal Finance (PF), I have urged the team to focus on in-depth articles, to dig deep, and investigate wrong-doing - in both the private and public sector.

Together, we have broken and revealed many stories around corruption, under "Corruption Buster".

Business Report was the first to report on alleged corruption at ABB, EOH, KPMG, McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, to name but a few.

Writing these articles comes with its own fair share of attention - not just from the public reading the stories.

Apart from being sued, I have personally received a number of death threats, and one of my reporters was offered thousands of rand to not write about one of the companies mentioned above.

Refusing to bow to, or be compromised by the same behaviour we have written about, we have stood our ground and continued to report the truth, and nothing but the truth.

At the time of reporting, our stories were questioned, sometimes even by our colleagues in the industry.

However, because the material we write is well-researched and corroborated, we have remained firm, so that even years later Business Report has been proven to be right all along.

In respect of the aforementioned, all have been found wanting and found to be guilty of some form of corruption or wrong-doing.

Then, there was the Commission of Inquiry at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) into allegations of impropriety at the PIC.

Business Report attended these proceedings and it soon became very apparent to me and the team that the commission was being used to target Sekunjalo-related companies, including Independent Media itself. In fact, the PIC’s own spokesperson remarked to me at the time that it was "another day at the Sekunjalo and AYO commission of inquiry".

But, why? Just because, for the first time in the history of South Africa, a significant media publisher is owned and managed by a black company, and one who had publicly declared its determination to transform the media industry?

Or, perhaps there is a different agenda at play here - could it be that even as far back as 2013, that Independent Media under a new dispensation could be an even greater threat commercially and potentially when exposing such deep-seated corruption that would make the Guptas look like a children’s bedtime fairytale?

In 2010, when I was the stakeholder relations executive at the Sekunjalo Group, I was invited for lunch by Media 24’s "chief investigation officer". He told me that Koos Bekker had appointed him to "bring down Survé" and begged me for any information about Independent Media’s executive chairperson, to help him in his mission.

Nothing came of it, of course, but I did leave that encounter wondering what was happening or had happened to freedom of the media, and what lurked beneath the waters that would drive such a desire and campaign to eliminate one person.

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