Journalist under investigation for ‘unlawful’ access to Matshela Koko cellphone records

Media24 journalist Kyle Cowan and his partner Chantelle Koen. Picture: Supplied

Media24 journalist Kyle Cowan and his partner Chantelle Koen. Picture: Supplied

Published Aug 18, 2022


Tshwarelo Hunter Mogakane

Pretoria - Media24 investigative journalist Kyle Cowan is under police investigation for allegedly gaining unlawful access to the cellphone records of former acting Eskom chief executive, Matshela Koko.

Koko approached Gauteng police last month, asking them to investigate how Cowan had obtained his cellphone records.

This was after Cowan’s partner, Chantelle Koen, told Koko that Cowan was in possession of the material. She said she wanted to destroy Cowan because he had hurt her by admitting he “gave a black man a blow job”.

In an affidavit on July 21, Koko said Cowan had no legal justification to obtain his cellphone records.

The affidavit also contains WhatsApp messages between Koko and Koen, in which she claimed Cowan was a bad father who had prioritised his friends and a work function over their son’s first birthday.

It painted a picture of Cowan as a journalist obsessed with Koko since 2017.

Cowan has written a series of stories painting a disastrous picture of Koko’s tenure at Eskom.

He also wrote a book accusing Koko of having been part of state capture at the power utility.

“Business Day came into possession of phone records that show that Koko had spoken to his colleagues, including chief financial officer (Anoj) Singh, after he had been suspended on August 2, 2017.

“His suspension notice prohibited contact with Eskom staff or suppliers. The phone records show that during the time he was on special leave Koko made dozens of phone calls to Eskom employees, including then chairman, Zethembe Khoza,” read part of Koko’s affidavit.

“There is no justifiable reason for Cowan to have access to my private confidential telephone records.”

Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Brenda Muridili confirmed police were investigating Koko’s complaint against Cowan.

Cowan denied engaging in any espionage against Koko, saying the criminal complaint was “an attempt to smear me”.

“I don’t engage in espionage; I am an investigative journalist. Your questions are offensive, and your intended publication will be unlawful. I will be in touch with my lawyers,” Cowan said.

Koko has also asked the police to probe a case of conspiracy by Koen to hurt Cowan, as he said she had tried to recruit him into her plot.

In his affidavit, Koko stated that on July 13 he received a message from Koen, who identified herself as Cowan’s “wife”. She later clarified that she was actually his partner of 12 years and that they had two children.

“She enquired what my relationship with Cowan was… She told me Cowan broke her heart and that she wants him to feel the shame and pain she is feeling but that I must keep her name confidential… I initially told her that my relationship with Cowan was indifferent but she was not convinced.

“She then wrote: ‘I know that he has data on you(r) old phones, and so on. Can you read Afrikaans?’ I became petrified that Cowan has data on my old phones. I began to lead her on”.

In the WhatsApp messages seen by the Pretoria News, Koen said: “I don’t know if it’s ammunition… it’s him admitting that he gave a black a blow job.

I have known for years that he is interested in men and of another colour.

“I don’t know why I’m doing this. I’m just really hurt, and you seemed to be the best person to contacts,” read the quoted texts.

Koko’s affidavit said Koen sent him screenshots of messages between her and Cowan in which he allegedly confessed.

“She wants Cowan to suffer,” wrote Koko.

“If (the partner) commits a crime of passion and Cowan is harmed, I am not a party to it.”

Koen did not to respond to a request for comment.

Pretoria News