Sanef expressed concern with a testimony by a crime intelligence officer at the Zondo Commission that "journalists have been paid" without mentioning names. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) on Tuesday expressed concern with a testimony by a crime intelligence officer at the Zondo Commission that "journalists have been paid" without mentioning names.

On Monday, Crime Intelligence officer Colonel Dhanajaya Naidoo told the inquiry that he had knowledge of at least three incidents where journalists were paid or benefited in some way from the secret service account.

Naidoo said former crime intelligence unit head Richard Mdluli had told him around 2009 or 2010 that he was meeting a journalist who had information on crime intelligence that "would have been detrimental if it was published".

He claimed that about R20 000 was used from the secret service account to pay off the journalist he did not know.

Naidoo also said he once walked into former crime intelligence finance officer Solomon Lazarus's office and found him in a conversation with another officer.

Apparently the officer said to Lazarus that Mulangi Mphego needed an answer as a journalist was waiting and Lazarus said 'pay'.

He also mentioned Tiso Blackstar journalist Ranjeni Munusamy, whose vehicle he claimed to have taken to a service station on instruction from Lazarus and R40 000 was paid from the secret service account for repairs.

Last week, Colonel Kobus Roelofse told the commission R143 621.78 was paid toward Munusamy’s vehicle finance account from a secret slush fund belonging to crime intelligence.

On Tuesday, Sanef said it noted the testimony of Roelofse and the further allegations from Naidoo.

In a statement, Sanef said it noted the problems that have been created by Naidoo’s mention of the fact that “journalists have been paid” without mentioning names.

"We believe that it is essential that the names are revealed and that the journalists implicated are given the space to respond.  We note that the Press Council Code is clear that “paid for” also called “brown envelope journalism” is completely unacceptable."

It also said the code dealt with “independence and conflicts of interest”, including not accepting any benefit which may influence coverage.

Sanef said it championed ethical journalism.

"If anyone has any evidence of unethical journalism, including the very serious breach of accepting funds for journalism, we encourage them to go to the Press Council.

"Further, we have launched our own independent Inquiry into Media Credibility and Ethics, chaired by retired Judge Kathleen Satchwell.

"We encourage any South African with evidence of journalists acting unethically or illegally to approach Judge Satchwell and the authorities, including the Zondo Commission."

Sanef also said it again again welcomed the decision by Tiso Blackstar to grant Munusamy special leave.

"We note Munusamy's strong denial of any wrong-doing, her detailed affidavit explaining the circumstances of her car repayments and related issues and her promise to cooperate fully with the Zondo Commission.

"We await the outcome of the Commission’s hearings and Tiso Blackstar's internal investigation."

In an affidavit to the Zondo Commission, Munusamy said a close family friend paid R143 000 to settle her car loan for her BMW convertible.

She also denied that she was paid by the crime intelligence.

"I have no idea of what the motives of those who have accused me are and why I have been targeted. I state unequivocally: I have never been in the pay of Crime Intelligence, whether as a journalist or otherwise."

Political Bureau