SABC probes VBS scan­dal cov­er­age

Lim­popo may have been com­pro­mised

Sunday World - - Sunday Report - By Aubrey Mothombeni moth­ombe­nia@sun­day­world.co.za

The SABC has an­nounced that it is launch­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the VBS Mu­tual Bank scan­dal cov­er­age by its news­room in Polok­wane.

This fol­lows al­le­ga­tions that the pub­lic broad­caster’s news­room in Polok­wane was com­pro­mised. In a state­ment re­leased yes­ter­day, the SABC said the de­ci­sion to con­duct an in­ves­ti­ga­tion was to es­tab­lish whether or not the cov­er­age of the VBS Mu­tual Bank story had breached the ethics and ed­i­to­rial codes.

“SABC re­ports that it has taken ac­tion to in­ves­ti­gate pos­si­ble breaches in its ed­i­to­rial code. This per­tains to the man­ner in which the cov­er­age of the VBS Mu­tual Bank story was han­dled by its news­room in Polok­wane.

“The de­ci­sion is in line with on­go­ing ef­forts to en­sure that the SABC News’ ed­i­to­rial prin­ci­ples of in­de­pen­dence and im­par­tial­ity are up­held at all times.

“More­over, it is also to safe­guard the in­tegrity and cred­i­bil­ity of its var­i­ous news prod­ucts by en­sur­ing that it de­liv­ers con­tent that is fact-driven,” reads the state­ment.

SABC spokesper­son Neo Mo­modu fur­ther stated that “should the in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Polok­wane re­veal ev­i­dence that the SABC News ser­vice’s ed­i­to­rial prin­ci­ples of in­de­pen­dence and im­par­tial­ity have been com­pro­mised, such vi­o­la­tions will be dealt with de­ci­sively”.

Sun­day World can re­veal that one of the ra­dio sta­tions tar­geted for the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is Pha­laphala FM af­ter a jour­nal­ist and pro­ducer of a cur­rent af­fairs show com­plained that he was called to or­der and told to take it easy on Venda King Toni Mphe­phu Ram­ab­u­lana af­ter he ran a se­ries of shows dis­cussing the VBS saga and the par­ties in­volved.

Ram­ab­u­lana was fingered by ad­vo­cate Terry Mo­tau’s re­port The Great Bank Heist to have re­ceived R17m. The king has since of­fered to re­pay the money in a state­ment is­sued last week.

Sun­day World can fur­ther re­veal that SABC group CEO Madoda Mx­akwe al­legedly con­tacted SABC re­gional gen­eral man­ager and chas­tised him about the com­plaints which were com­ing from re­porters in his re­gion’s news­rooms, who al­leged there was in­ter­fer­ence in their re­port­ing on the VBS story.

An­other is­sue that prompted the de­ci­sion to in­ves­ti­gate the news­room in Lim­popo, ac­cord­ing to a highly placed source, was a dis­claimer which played on ra­dio pro­grammes on Pha­laphala FM telling lis­ten­ers to de­sist from in­sult­ing the lead­ers who were im­pli­cated in the VBS scan­dal.

SABC CEO Madoda Mx­akwe is said to be fum­ing over al­le­ga­tions.

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