Pearlie Joubert’s affidavit found to have no substance – Phylicia Oppelt

Sunday Times editor says document is a construct of an embittered person who simply aims to discredit her former colleagues and place of employment

Media Statement from Phylicia Oppelt of Times Media

2 December 2015

When Pearlie Joubert's affidavit was first brought to Times Media's attention, its owners had the foresight to launch an internal investigation as her claims had serious implications. An independent, external party conducted a comprehensive examination of Joubert's accusations.

None, however malicious and obviously driven by a personal agenda, was found to have substance - specifically the claim that my former husband held sway in the reporting on SARS.

To give this any credence is to fundamentally undermine the reputation, integrity and professionalism of my former colleagues in the SundayTimes' investigations unit.

All they did was their jobs as award-winning investigative journalists - hunt for information, obtain documents that the powerful wish to hide and write stories that shed light on misdeeds.

The public release of the KPMG report into the existence of a rogue unit within SARS will substantively confirm the unit's reporting.

Some key issues Joubert fails to address in the affidavit are;

- Why on resigning she made no mention of her discomfort around this issue;

- The real reason for the breakdown in the relationship with her investigative colleagues which involved her clearly breaching her ethical obligations as a journalist on a matter entirely unrelated to this case;

- The nature of her relationship with Johan van Loggerenberg, and;

- Why she wrote an anonymous and sympathetic article about van Loggerenberg's charity while at the Sunday Times.

Her affidavit is untested and the Sunday Times had no opportunity to cross-examine her at the Ombudsman’s hearing. It is the construct of an embittered person who simply aims to discredit her former colleagues and place of employment.

Issued by Samantha Pugh, Pugh Public Relations & Corporate Communications on behalf of Andrew Gill, Managing Director, Times Media, 2 December 2015