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JOHANNESBURG - The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) on Friday appointed an independent auditor to Investigate the alleged R100 000 donation reported to have been paid by Bosasa Operations to a crowdfunding campaign for a group of eight journalists who were suspended from the public broadcaster.

TimesLIVE reported on Tuesday that Bosasa - now known as African Global Operations -- appeared to have paid the money towards a crowdfunding campaign to help the journalists with their legal fees in 2016. 

Bosasa has emerged as a key player in capturing the State and bribing high-ranking officials in order to win lucrative tenders.

The SABC 8 were journalists who were suspended for speaking out against censorship of protest footage by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

TimesLIVE said it had seen a leaked e-mail in which former Bosasa chief operations officer, Angelo Agrizzi, instructed other officials to make the R100 000 donation, saying it would be the best return on investment. 

Agrizzi is currently testifying against the company at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into allegations of State capture. He said Bosasa had paid bribes to some journalists to not write certain stories.

Even though Sanef on Wednesday denied any donation from Bosasa to the SABC8 and it could not find any evidence to support this in its our own investigation, it has now said it felt it necessary to set out the facts and its position in greater detail.

"As such we have now called upon an Independent auditing firm (name to be released in due course) to conduct a full introspection of the account for purpose of transparency. We will publish the findings in full when completed," it said in a statement. 

"The emergence of an alleged email, purportedly from within Bosasa suggesting that they may have contributed to the SABC 8 has caused some members of the public to question the ethical commitments of Sanef. We want to state categorically that we never solicited funds from Bosasa."

Sanef said while editorial mistakes contribute to the erosion of trust, it would like to urge the public to not underestimate what appears to be strategically and clinically organised efforts to erode the credibility of journalists and their endeavours to inform the public so it may participate meaningfully in the affairs of our country.

"That being said we will not condone shoddy journalism and have no hesitation in calling to order our own in the media, hence every effort is being made to institute an independent commission of inquiry into credibility and ethics in the media. Members of the public will be encouraged to participate and lodge complaints," it said.

African News Agency (ANA)