Hawks bugged reporter’s phone

Inspector-general of state intelligence, Faith Radebe, has confirmed that Sunday Times journalist Mzilikazi Wa Afrika’s phone calls had been monitored by the Hawks, according to a news report on Sunday.

Radebe told the Sunday Times that Wa Afrika’s phone tap was ordered through the proper channels.

“As part of a lawful investigative method, an interception direction in terms of the Rica [Act] was approved by the designated judge in respect of [Wa Afrika] pertaining to the allegations of crime, and not for the reason that he is a journalist,” she said.

Sunday Times editor Ray Hartley said the criminal justice system had been abused to “harass and intimidate” Wa Africa.

“The judge who authorised this ‘surveillance’ and the police officers who requested it, should hang their heads in shame,” Hartley said.

Wa Afrika and Stephan Hofstatter, another Sunday Times journalist, had been warned earlier in the year that they were being monitored.

The newspaper asked Radebe to investigate this, and in her progress report she said Wa Afrika was the subject of a Hawks investigation, but would not disclose further details.

Wa Afrika was arrested at the Sunday Times‘s Rosebank office on August 4 2010. After notebooks dating back 11 years, computers and cellphones were seized from his Johannesburg house, a handcuffed Wa Afrika was driven to Mpumalanga where he was detained in police custody.

On August 6 he appeared in the Nelspruit Regional Court with Mpumalanga government official Victor Mlimi on charges of fraud, forgery and uttering.

Wa Afrika and Hofstatter exposed the R500-million deal to lease the 18-storey Middestad Sanlam Centre in Pretoria for 10 years from property vendor Roux Shabangu. – Sapa

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