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16 Oct 2007 18:55
Western Cape police and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Tuesday scoffed at claims that police are about to arrest Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya and deputy managing editor Jocelyn Maker.
“While we are in a position to state that as the NPA we are aware of the existence of such an investigation being conducted by the South African Police Service [SAPS], we wish to state that there is no truth in reports that the said editor and journalist will be arrested and/or be brought before court this week,” NPA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said on Tuesday.
The docket in this regard had been received by the office of Western Cape director of public prosecutions Rodney de Kock.
De Kock’s office would consider the matter and decide if anyone would be prosecuted and, if so, on what charges.
“To this end, we are in regular contact with the SAPS, with whom we are interacting on this matter. No undertaking or official announcement regarding the outcome of this process has yet been made,” Tlali said.
Western Cape police commissioner Mzwandile Petros told journalists that although investigators had compiled a docket, Makhanya and Maker were not mentioned in it.
The Sunday Times reported on the weekend that Makhanya and Maker would be arrested this week over the theft of Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang’s medical records.
This followed a series of articles in the newspaper detailing her alcohol consumption while in a private hospital in Cape Town.
The hospital, Medi-Clinic, lodged the theft complaint.
Petros said De Kock, who would have to decide if anyone was to be prosecuted, had not yet read the docket.
“As far as this docket is concerned, nobody’s going to be arrested from the Sunday Times as of the October 16,” he said.
“I don’t know where this thing comes from that somebody from the Sunday Times is going to be arrested.”
However, he declined to say whether he could exclude the possibility that they could be arrested in future.
Earlier this year, Sunday Times reports claimed that, in two stays at the Cape Town Medi-Clinic for a shoulder operation in 2005, Tshabalala-Msimang sent staff to buy alcohol, threw drunken tantrums, abused nurses and washed down medication with wine and whisky.
It also said she had used her position to secure a new liver while hiding her alcoholism from the public and had been convicted of stealing a watch from a patient while superintendent of a Botswana hospital in 1976.
A Health Ministry statement said these allegations were “false, speculative and bizarre”.
Mbeki has shrugged off opposition calls to fire the minister.
The minister responded by taking the Sunday Times to court.
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