Sunday Times editor subpoenaed as Hawks investigate Koko bribe claims
Johannesburg - Sunday Times editor Bongani Siqoko has been subpoenaed by the Hawks in relation into a probe that former Eskom executive Matshela Koko was asked for a R3m bribe by a person claiming this would avert a negative article, Timeslive reports.
The alleged solicitation of a bribe was by someone claiming to be acting on behalf of Mzilikazi wa Afrika, a former Sunday Times senior reporter, to prevent a story being published in 2017.
Gauteng Hawks spokesperson Capt Ndivhuwo Mulamu told the website they were investigating the matter and that no arrests had been made.
According to the news site, Koko claims in his complaint he was approached in May 2017 by a man named Walter Sithole, who told him that "detrimental" information about him was due to by published in the Sunday Times.
“He claimed the story was about Impulse International - a company of which Koko's stepdaughter Koketso Choma had been a director and which had been awarded several large contracts by Eskom. Koko said Sithole told him that a journalist from the paper, Wa Afrika, was going to write the story, and showed him a list of news stories planned for that week, which included the detrimental story,” Timeslive reported.
It is reported that on May 6, the evening before the publication date, Sithole brought Koko an "editor's copy" of the page. Koko said the allegedly detrimental information had indeed been omitted from the paper.
After that newspaper edition was published, Koko said Sithole had demanded R3m from him, saying it was for Wa Afrika's benefit, for not publishing the story about Koko and Impulse, according to Timeslive.
Wa Afrika, when contacted by Timeslive, denied the allegations, saying it was “just a smear campaign to get back at me for exposing him [Koko]”.
He said the matter had been dealt with last year when the Hawks approached Siqoko and that he had never been contacted by the Hawks.
“I exposed Matshela Koko, my stories about him were published in the Sunday Times..."
On the date in question, he said: "I had no story on my diary about Matshela Koko to be published on May 7, 2017. The Hawks investigated the matter and even came to speak with the editor and it was confirmed that there was no such a story on my diary.
“I have never spoken to Koko about any story and if he had any deal with Walter Sithole, it has nothing to do with me...
"I never took any bribe from anyone to influence any story," said Wa Afrika
On Sunday, Siqoko told Timeslive: "I can confirm that I have been subpoenaed to appear in court or hand over a copy of our diary of stories to the Hawks investigators. We have given it to our lawyers who will advise us on how to handle this."
Koko told the new site he would not comment further. "This matter is already with the police and I am happy with the progress the police have made. I comment no further."