The Sunday Times newspaper on Monday reacted to claims by Peter Snyman, the late Brenda Fassie’s manager, that the paper had inaccurately reported his statements about Fassie in a story titled “Brenda Fassie poison probe”.
The report said: “The Sunday Times can confirm that preliminary post-mortem results found that Fassie had died from a drug overdose. However, an inquest into her death has now been launched after doctors established that the singer had died of unnatural causes.”
It added that “Peter Snyman, Fassie’s manager, said he had evidence that the drugs she took had been ‘tampered’ with. He said there was enough evidence to show that the crack cocaine Fassie used was laced with a lethal rat poison … Snyman said he and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela would ask police to question a young woman who was known to have been close to the singer. The woman — not Fassie’s lover, Gloria Chaka — visited the star at her Buccleuch home in Sandton, Johannesburg, on Sunday April 25.”
In Monday’s statement Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya said: “The Sunday Times subscribes to the highest standards of accuracy and imposes the most stringent checks on its reporting.”
Snyman has now denied saying Fassie had taken drugs the night before she was taken to hospital, or that the drugs had been tampered with.
“What we did discuss [with Sunday Times reporters] was that drug dealers sometimes used the types of techniques described in the [newspaper] piece,” Snyman said on Sunday.
According to the Sunday Times statement, Snyman had told the paper: “At the moment I got information, so strong and very reliable. At the moment in Jo’burg, there is a substance on the street, it looks like cocaine but it’s not cocaine, it’s called Thai white but it’s pure heroin. And if you smoke that you die. There is a guy wÃ”ho is in [a] coma right now.
“I have not done enough investigation into this thing. You know what Nigerians do in Jo’burg? You know cocaine comes in plastic bags, they pour half out, they fill the other half with Rattex [a rat poison] or what is the other one — baby powder. Out of one packet, they make two. That’s how they make their money, these guys are ruthless.”
A Sunday Times reporter had asked: “Does that look like the drug that Brenda took the night before she collapsed?”
Snyman had replied: “It could be but I was not there and I don’t have the coroner’s report in front of me. I can’t make, now how can I put it, I can’t confirm it or deny it. But we have a strong suspicion that her drugs was tampered with.”
The Sunday Times said Snyman phoned Chicco Twala, Brenda’s producer, last Thursday to tell him officially that he [Snyman] had discovered that the drug that killed Brenda was laced with Rattex.
Twala told the Sunday Times on Monday that he is “just surprised that now he [Snyman] is publicly denying everything. He told me the same story as it appeared in the Sunday Times.”
Snyman has also denied discussing with Winnie Madikizela-Mandela the matter of the police questioning anybody.
“What I did say was we would like to speak to the person who was with her the night before she died, to shed some light on what happened,” he said.
However, Snyman had reportedly told the Sunday Times: “Gloria [Chaka, Fassie’s lover] is not the person I want investigated. There is another person who came to the house and spent the night there. I won’t give you names but that is the girl I would want questioned because I told Mama Winnie about it and she is looking into it. Because that girl, the next day when she came to the hospital, she could not look me in the face, she just ran away when she saw me.
“We suspect a foul play. We are busy looking into that, I cannot make allegations in newspapers just in case it is not true, that girl can sue the shit out of me. Look, we discussed it with Mama Winnie, after the funeral, we will question this girl and if we think there is something, we will report it.”
Snyman also claims he has not seen any post-mortem report.
“To the best of my knowledge, no one, not even the family, has seen the report.”
But, according to the newspaper statement, he had said: “I have the report because I have the power of attorney. It was released to me sometime this week. Her death is drug-related, that’s off the record, we agree? If, I understand it correctly, it [all has] to do with all the drugs she has been taking over the years.
“But I am not a doctor, so I cannot tell you exactly what killed her. Phone Sunninghill hospital and speak to Dr Ballhausen, if you are lucky she can read you the report. I cannot give you the copy of the report, I am in Cape Town right now and I would be back in Jo’burg on Wednesday — the report is at my house. Why can’t you phone the family, they also have the report.”