Johannesburg - The Zondo commission has heard how a journalist who wrote articles on facilities management company Bosasa was threatened and warned to stop reporting on the company.
News24 Editor Adriaan Basson told the inquiry that he had taken interest in Bosasa after it was revealed in Parliament that the company was awarded a number of contracts by the department of correctional services in 2006.
He said he investigated the facilities company and developed a relationship with a number of sources inside Bosasa. In 2009, while working for the Mail&Guardian, Basson said he was leaked a bunch of emails from a source. It was those emails that became the basis for an article authored by him and entitled "Here is the proof minister".
The articles showed how Bosasa had been involved in drawing up tender specifications for tenders that it was awarded by correctional services. This fact was also confirmed to the commission by former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi.
Basson said after the article was published in 2009, he started receiving phone calls from various numbers, some of them would be visible and others would be marked as private.
The callers would threaten Basson and tell him that they were Bosasa employees and he was risking their livelihoods by publishing articles about Bosasa.
He said he would explain that he was just doing his job.
Basson described a more disturbing phone call which he received in 2009. He said a woman called him and tried to deceive him into thinking that she was looking out for him and warned him to stop writing about Bosasa. Basson said the woman introduced herself as a media person but did not reveal her name.
The woman also had personal details about Basson about his family, where he studied, his ID number and where he lived. He told the commission that he suspects the woman had been reading from an intelligence document that was done on him.
When he Googled the number that the unidentified woman used, he found the number belonged to Benedicta Dube, who worked in PR but had been a journalist before. Dube was also mentioned in Agrizzi's testimony as one of the journalists that did PR work for Bosasa.
Bosasa had apparently distributed Basson's telephone number to its employees and they were encouraged to call him and threaten him, Basson told the inquiry.
Basson said the calls upset him and he did feel threatened. Bosasa at the time denied being behind the threats against Basson.
The editor was also questioned about a video in which Agrizzi said he had visited his home and had brought his children with. Basson admitted that he had visited Agrizzi's home to get more information on Bosasa. He said Agrizzi had indicated that he was ready to blow the whistle on the corruption at Bosasa.
The inquiry continues.IOL