Mzilikazi wa Afrika and Stephan Hofstatter leave Sunday Times

This is as newspaper announces it will be returning a number of awards won by the two for controversial stories

Mzilikazi wa Afrika, Stephan Hofstatter 'not fired'

Mzilikazi wa Afrika and Stephan Hofstatter have 'not been fired', the Sunday Time's confirmed to News24 without divulging further details about the senior reporters' posts at Tiso Blackstar.

"They haven't been fired… Beyond that I am not prepared to comment on any contractual relationships with them," Sunday Time's Legal Editor Suzan Smuts told News24.

Earlier, she was reported to have told EWN that the two may have left of their own accord.

However, she later told News24, she had been misquoted.

When contacted Hofstatter referred queries to Tiso Blackstar; while Wa Afrika did not respond to attempts to get comment from him.

Sunday Times editor Bongani Siqoko also declined to comment, saying he "cannot discuss employees in the media".

Both reporters were investigative journalists involved in articles published in 2011, about a Cato Manor police unit dubbed as a 'death squad', a Sars 'rogue unit' and Zimbabwean 'renditions'.

The articles have since been discredited.

On Sunday, Siqoko announced in a piece published in the newspaper, that it apologised for the articles.

He also said that the newspaper would return all awards and prize money received for the reports.

Siqoko said that the newspaper accepted that "there was clearly a parallel political project aimed at undermining our democratic values and destroying state institutions and removing individuals who were seen as obstacles to this project…".

"We admit that our stories may have been used for this purpose," he added.We got it wrong, and for that we apologise

We have spent the past few weeks reflecting on our reporting of allegations of police killings in Cato Manor in KwaZulu-Natal and the illegal deportation of Zimbabweans to face execution in their country - known as renditions. These stories were written by a team of senior journalists and published in this newspaper in 2011.