OPINION

Sekunjalo's case against the Sunday Times: An update

After initially refusing to open a docket police have now done so under SAPS case number- 277/12/2013 (Dec 4)

Last night Sekunjalo laid a criminal complaint with the SAPS at Caledon Square in Cape Town under SAPS case number- 277/12/2013 against the Sunday Times newspaper, its editor Phylicia Oppelt, and one of its journalists, Bobby Jordan.

The police declined last night to open a docket, but having reviewed their decision today, a docket was opened.

The criminal complaint concerns an article which appeared in the Sunday Times on 1 December 2013, quoting extensively from a confidential draft provisional report by the Public Protector.

The publication by the Sunday Times contravenes section 7(2) of the Public Protector Act 23 of 1994.

The article referred to a confidential draft provisional report which was circulated to affected parties in terms of section 7 of the Public Protector Act. The Public Protector made it clear that her draft provisional report was confidential, may not be disseminated, and was meant only for comment by the affected parties and not for public consumption. The Public Protector warned explicitly,

"Kindly further take note that in terms of section 7(2) of the Public Protector Act, 1994, the contents of the report is confidential. No person may disclose such (contents) . . . and any person that breaches the confidentiality shall be guilty of an offence".

The Sunday Times is well aware that the contents of draft provisional reports by the Public Protector are confidential, and may not be disclosed to anyone until the Public Protector elects to publish her final report.

The final report has not yet been published by the Public Protector.

In fact, prior to the publication by the Sunday Times, the Public Protector has made it clear in a press release on Friday 29 November 2013, and then again on Monday 2 December 2013 that publishing extracts from the draft provisional report is "unethical and unlawful" and that doing so contravenes section 7(2) of Act 23 of 1994.

In a press conference this afternoon the Public Protector reiterated her view, which is shared by Sekunjalo, that the Sunday Times (and other newspapers who have done the same) acted unethically and unlawfully. However, she reportedly said she lacks the resources to lodge a criminal complaint, and lamented the conduct of the newspapers.

In fact, Sekunjalo had asked the Public Protector on Monday morning 2 December 2013 to prefer criminal charges against the Sunday Times. In light of her failure to do so, Sekunjalo lodged its criminal complaint.

We look forward to receipt of a report on the investigation by the SAPS, and hope that the National Prosecuting Authority will ensure that the provisions of the Public Protector Act, 1994 are upheld.

Statement issued by Khalid Abdulla, Sekunjalo Investment Limited, December 4 2013

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