Independent Media has granted The Sunday Independent editor Steve Motale stress leave with immediate effect.

Cape Town - Independent Media has granted The Sunday Independent editor Steven Motale stress leave with immediate effect.

"Motale has indicated to Independent Media that he has received death threats over the last while and requested time to deal with the trauma of this situation. Independent Media wishes Mr Motale and his family well during this difficult period," a statement said.

Independent Media Executive Chairman, Dr Iqbal Survé, who is returning from the 9th BRICS Summit in China, has requested the editor of The Star, Japhet Ncube, to serve as acting editor of The Sunday Independent.

“The past few days have been challenging for the editor and the editorial team at The Sunday Independent. It is important to give Steve the necessary time off while at the same time, ensuring stability at The Sunday Independent," said Survé.

On Wednesday Motale issued a statement that was posted on IOL responding to reaction that the newspaper’s September 3 lead article on Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s alleged infidelities was a “smear campaign”, aimed at influencing the outcome of the ANC policy conference.

The Sunday Independent article reveals the details of emails leaked to Motale linking Ramaphosa to a string of extra-marital affairs.

Motale said he started receiving death threats from callers claiming to be Ramaphosa’s supporters soon after questions he sent to one of the women allegedly romantically linked to Ramaphosa, as well as those he sent to Ramaphosa's private email accounts with his cellphone numbers, were leaked on social media on Friday. 

Motale was also with Kenny Kunene shortly before the car the businessman and socialite was travelling in was shot at in Joburg on Tuesday night.

He said he was not with Kunene when he was "ambushed" as his bodyguards had advised them not to travel in the same car after a suspicious car was seen earlier in the evening.

On Wednesday Ramaphosa told MPs in the National Assembly that he would take them and other South Africans into his confidence "in a day or two" around "matters of a personal nature".