The Star Late Edition
‘Brown envelope’ scandal report delayed
THE ANC is yet to hand over a controversial report, relating to the Western Cape’s “brown envelope” journalism scandal, to the Western Cape High Court.
The party was ordered to submit the report to the court when Independent Newspapers won permission to access the document.
It contains the findings of an internal ANC investigation into whether former Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool paid journalists, including two from the Cape Argus, for favourable coverage.
The document was meant to be submitted in early December, five working days after Judge Bennie Griesel made the order on November 30; however, the parties agreed to extend the deadline to December 21.
The ANC’S legal team approached Griesel at the last minute in an attempt to again extend the deadline, this time to January 13.
Independent Newspapers’ attorney, Jacques Louw, said Judge Griesel had refused the request as it would require the ANC to bring a formal application for an extension. Louw said the “strangest” part of the delay was that the ANC’S lawyers didn’t have a copy of the report and had never seen it.
The party’s lawyers had explained that the only copy of the report was in the safe of Deputy Justice Minister Andries Nel, who headed the ANC’S internal probe. Nel was overseas and was due to return on December 28, but the party’s lawyers were now on leave.
The initial application was brought by the Cape Argus, under the Independent Newspapers umbrella, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
Two of its journalists, thenpolitical editor Joseph Aranes and then-political writer Ashley Smith, were also implicated in the brown envelope controversy, and in 2010, Smith came forward with an affidavit claiming that they had, in fact, been paid.
The scandal first emerged six years ago and related to alleged payments to journalists by former ANC office-bearers in the Western Cape government. They were allegedly paid to write favourable articles about Rasool to promote his faction, which at the time was feuding with a faction led by the then ANC provincial secretary, Mcebisi Skwatsha.
Rasool, who resigned as premier in 2008, is now the South African ambassador to the US, while Skwatsha remains an MPL.