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SANEF stands by City Press over purported brown envelope journalism

180917 A man holds South African Rand notes on a counter. Picture: Karen Sandison/ANA

180917 A man holds South African Rand notes on a counter. Picture: Karen Sandison/ANA

Published Oct 10, 2023


The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) has rallied behind City Press over claims that one of its journalist is involved in ‘brown envelope“ journalism.

This comes after a “purported email exchange” circulated on social media allegedly between a journalist and a controversial Neville Gawula of N Gawula Attorneys Inc. seem to suggest that a recent expose of department of employment and labour DG, Thobile Lamati, was facilitated through unethical payments to the said journalist.

However, Sanef indicated that this exchange is nothing but a fabricated exchange aimed at tarnishing the image of journalist Mphumzi Zuzile, whose expose titled, Department of employment and labour DG in R5billion scandal’ uncovered the rot within the department.

A leaked email exchange between Zuzile and Gawula, which was circulated on social media, seems to suggest that Zuzile was paid for her expose on Lamati.

Parts of the email read: ‘’Thank you for the attack on the DG, Lamati, last week. It went well. Now that we have established a level of trust, I am sending you more information extracted from the investigation...You will receive the balance of your payment after the publishing of the story,’’ Gawula writes in the email..

However, Sanef said it believes City Press’s stance that the email exchange was fabricated to paint its journalist in a bad light.

“City Press has stated that the email is a fabrication, and as Sanef, we believe them. Sanef also welcomes calls by City Press to anyone who claims to have evidence, proving wrong-doing on the part of any of their journalists, to come forward with such,” the industry body said in a statement.

Media24 CEO Ishmet Davidson said the company is investigating this alleged incident of brown envelope journalism against one of its reporters.

Last week, The Star reported that he Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) recently commissioned an investigation that has thrown the spotlight on the questionable ethics of Neville Gawula, a “controversial” attorney.

Gawula’s legal firm, N Gawula Attorneys Inc., was appointed to review the selection process behind the deal between the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and investment company Thuja Capital, and to conduct the due diligence of the company.

Earlier this year, minister of employment and labour Thulas Nxesi directed his director general (Lamati) to halt a project that would have seen the department approve a funding proposal for Thuja Capital Investment Fund Project, a company that has been reported to be unregistered with Sars and the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).

Davidson said Media24 has always prided itself on ethical journalism and does not tolerate any transgression against these journalistic values.

“At Media24, journalistic integrity is non-negotiable, and it plays an incredibly important role in media’s contribution to our democracy. We do not compromise on this and will not tolerate any transgressions. Hence, we have commenced an investigation into the information you supplied.

“The investigation and any potential subsequent actions need to follow due process, and we will not be commenting on the details,” Davidson said.

Attempts to get comment from N Gawula Attorneys were still unsuccessful at the time of going to print.