Pearlie Joubert's claims fanciful and vindictive - Times Media

Andrew Gill says Sunday Times stands by its reporting on the SARS 'rogue unit'

Times Media rejects claims made by reporter Pearlie Joubert

Johannesburg, 1 December 2015:  We reject the claims by reporter Pearlie Joubert that the former husband of the former Sunday Times editor influenced our reporting on the SARS rogue unit. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Joubert claimed in an affidavit that her friend of 26 years, Rudolf Mastenbroek, who had also previously been a source of hers, had tried to plant information about alleged improprieties committed by former SARS commissioner Ivan Pillay and SARS investigator Johan van Loggerenberg.

Mastenbroek was previously married to former editor Phylicia Oppelt.

Not only was Mastenbroek not a source for any of our stories about SARS, but the central point of our reporting - the existence of a rogue unit within SARS - has been backed up by a number of independent investigations, most recently a KPMG report.

Previously an investigation by advocate Muzi Sikhakhane also confirmed the existence of the unit. Sikhakhane's report was endorsed by Judge Kroon. Self-evidently we were not in a position to influence the outcome of these investigations.

Four reporters gathered information from their own sources with the intelligence community as well as within SARS and tested it before publication. We stand by our stories.

We do not wish to speculate on the reasons Joubert might have for exposing a source and friend, but her perceptions about the sources and genesis of our stories are as fanciful as they are vindictive.

Statement issued by Andrew Gill, Managing Director, Times Media, 1 December 2015