M&G denies attending Scorpions 'indaba'

The Mail & Guardian‘s editor-in-chief, Nic Dawes, denied on Thursday that a journalist of the paper attended an “indaba” with the Scorpions to discuss campaigning against former police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi.

Read the M&G‘s full statement here

This comes after Selebi’s defence team presented to the South Gauteng High Court a video recording in which drug-dealer Glenn Agliotti made several claims, including that members of the Directorate of Special Operations [the Scorpions] had held a three-day “indaba” which was attended by a member of the M&G to plan an alleged campaign against Selebi.

“This allegation is false. At no stage did any M&G reporter or employee attend any such meeting or indaba,” said Dawes.

“The M&G‘s award-winning stories were the result of in-depth research, relying on a wide array of individual and documentary sources and motivated by our duty to expose wrongdoing in high places. The M&G was not led or spoon-fed.

“In fact, the M&G has not enjoyed a close relationship with the Scorpions or with the National Prosecuting Authority.
On at least two occasions, representatives of both agencies attempted to quash publication of allegations related to their investigation of Selebi. Once they visited our offices threatening to gag us through an interdict and on another occasion they approached the court for an interdict—in which they failed. This is hardly evidence of a joint and strategic campaign.”

Agliotti claims on the video that he was told by the Scorpions of the so-called “indaba”. He slammed the Scorpions for “using” the M&G to attack him and Selebi in public.

The allegation first arose in January 2008, when Selebi attempted to interdict the National Prosecuting Authority from arresting or charging him. In an affidavit at the time, Selebi claimed: “I have received information that members of DSO even went on a so-called “Bosberaad” with members of the media, more in particular members from the Mail & Guardian to discuss and structure this campaign against me.”

According to Dawes, it is now clear that Selebi’s source then was none other than the Agliotti video, which was recorded days before Selebi went to court.

“It is unsettling that Selebi should have presented, as fact, hearsay which resulted from an interview with Agliotti and arranged by state intelligence officials,” he said.

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