/ 22 May 2009

‘Very brave for a young man’

On a Sunday evening in February I was phoned by a woman with a raspy voice who told me she knew where I lived.

The woman, later identified as communication strategist Benedicta Dube, also knew where and what I had studied, where I was born, what my ID number was and she read to me the names of some of my friends and their professions.

During our conversation of almost 18 minutes Dube also threw in lines such as: ‘You are very brave for a young man” and said she would ‘kill” me if I told anyone about our conversation.

Her call came after I exposed in the Mail & Guardian over a period of three weeks the corrupt relationship between facilities management company Bosasa and the Department of Correc-
tional Services.

Dube posed as sympathetic — she warned me Bosasa had commissioned a private investigator to do a report on me and offered to meet me to discuss the ‘bigger” issues behind the story.

I was sceptical — she spent most of our conversation talking about my personal details ‘because I want to be sure I’m talking to the right person”. My suspicions were confirmed by an inside source, who told me Dube had been briefed on me by Bosasa executives since at least August 2008 (I’ve been investigating the company since early 2006). A strategy to discredit the M&G and me was discussed.

My attempts to secure a meeting with her have proved futile. I am convinced her motives were never to caution, but rather to intimidate.
The M&G‘s lawyer wrote to Bosasa and Igagu Media (where Dube is ‘group executive: media and publishing”) on May 6, demanding an immediate return of all my personal information in their possession.

Bosasa’s lawyer denied the company had acted in an ‘unlawful manner as alleged or at all” and said Dube’s information ‘falls within the public domain”. Igagu Media did not respond. Dube claims she doesn’t recall our conversation and that she doesn’t work for Igagu anymore. She accused the M&G of ‘blackmail journalism”.