Sanef said it has asked Parliament's ethics committee to call a hearing on Minister Gwede Mantashe's conduct. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria - The SA National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) on Wednesday said it has asked Parliament's ethics committee to call a hearing on Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe's conduct, following his later retracted claim that he bribed two Sunday World journalists to suppress a story that he had an extra-marital affair with a Pretoria woman.

Executive director Kate Skinner said Sanef's written request to the legislature follows the letter it wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa in October, asking him to call Mantashe to account. 

"To date, Minister Mantashe has still not apologised for the comments that he bribed journalists at the Sunday World newspaper to quash a story about his personal life. We note that he has subsequently retracted that statement," said Skinner.

"This is an extremely serious matter for Sanef, and we will continue to seek answers. As a result, we have now also written to the parliamentary ethics committee asking the committee to hold a hearing into the matter. Finally, Sanef has followed up with members of Judge [Kathy] Satchwell’s Independent Media Ethics and Credibility Inquiry."

Skinner said the panelists would be asking Mantashe to make a submission.

"Sanef believes that as a minimum, an apology is required - to the journalists at the Sunday World, the Sunday World itself, all journalists whose reputations have been tarnished as a result of his claims, and the South African public as a whole," said Skinner.

"Sanef reiterates the fact that paid for or so-called “brown envelope” journalism is a very serious breach of the Press Council Code."

Mantashe claimed that he paid R70 000 to Sunday World journalists to quash a story revealing his extramarital affair with Lerato Makgatho, a Pretoria student, although he later denied paying a bribe. He admitted however that he did claim having done so.

The Sunday World has since demanded that Mantashe apologise for making the bribery claims against its journalists, while the Democratic Alliance has called on Parliament's ethics committee to probe his conduct.

African News Agency (ANA)