Herald invites Faku to visit and voice his concerns

African National Congress (ANC) Nelson Mandela Bay regional chairperson Nceba Faku has yet to accept an invitation to visit the Herald newspaper after reportedly threatening to torch its offices, the executive news editor said on Wednesday.

“We had invited him to visit our office and voice his concerns,” said Samantha Smith.

“He said it was a decision that needed to be made by the ANC. He would table the request with the regional executive committee.”

Faku said he did not think that, “in principle”, there would be a problem with meeting the editor, but he needed to consult with the ANC, because “quite honestly, I don’t want to make it a personal issue”.

Earlier in the week, he wrote an open letter to the Herald‘s editor, Heather Robertson, in which he denied inciting about 100 people to set alight the newspaper’s offices at an election victory party last week.

At the party he reportedly said: “Down with the Herald, down, down. Burn the Herald. Fire to the Herald.

“The Herald dictated that [Democratic Alliance leader Helen] Zille and [the Congress of the People’s Smuts] Ngonyama would stand here today and run the metro. The Herald was on the forefront of that. Passop the Herald, passop.”

Newspaper stands by story
However, in his letter Faku wrote: “The skewed reporting of what I said could provoke individuals to commit arson, putting at risk the lives of innocent people, including municipal firemen and women who would no doubt be called to extinguish such a fire.

“I would not do or say anything which would compromise the discipline of my organisation as your paper falsely attributes.”

Smith said the newspaper stood by its story.

Its journalist on the scene had made notes, and it had received the same information from independent sources on the scene.

“We’ve got notes … but we also had independent sources. We have at least five people who were there and heard it.”

These included freelance photographers and a journalist from Independent Newspapers, said Smith.

‘My dear, I’m referring you to the letter’
On Wednesday, Faku said he stood by what he had said in the letter.

“My dear, I have written a letter and I am referring you to the letter,” he said.

Pressed to comment on the newspaper’s statement that it had several sources confirming its report, Faku said he was not “confirming” or “denying” anything.

He accused a South African Press Association journalist of not being honest about the reason for the telephonic interview, and when told that he was being offered an opportunity to give his side of the story, Faku ended the call.

On Tuesday, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said Faku should be given a chance to explain himself.

Mantashe said “nobody” in the party should incite the destruction of property, but pointed out that Faku had denied making the threats in his letter to the newspaper. — Sapa

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Fienie Grobler
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