The SABC 8, a group of journalists who were suspended in 2016 for speaking out about censorship at the public broadcaster, have refuted claims they accepted R100 000 in donations from Bosasa in 2016.
A crowdfunding campaign was set up to help the group financially after they were suspended by then chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the group said: “The SABC 8 has learnt with dismay and disgust, the attempts to associate us with the Bosasa affair.”
According to a leaked email sent by former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi to Bosasa chief accountant Carlos Bonifacio, finance employee Jacques van Zyl and former chief financial officer Andries van Tonder, instructions were given for the “strategic” donation to be made to the fund.
The fund, called “Friends of SABC journalists” was set up by the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) treasurer Adriaan Basson and was supported by Sanef.
Times Live reported that the email dated July 22 2016 read: “Strategically Andries has come up with a brilliant idea to sponsor the journalist fund that was started to assist the SABC journalists who were fired — Bosasa will contribute an amount of R100 000… Trust me this is probably going to be the best ROI [return on investment] we’ve ever had with donations.”
The SABC 8 say they were not aware of who made donations to the fund, but Sanef confirmed in a statement that no donations were made by Bosasa.“We have had the opportunity to go through every one of the 394 donations made in July 2016 to the cause and could not find any donation from Bosasa and/or a person connected to Bosasa or a donation for R100 000.”
According to Sanef, donations were made mostly by members of the public.
“The campaign called on members of the public to support the SABC 8 with their rands and cents and no individual donors were approached. South Africans opened their hearts and wallets and we managed to raise almost R400,000 from individual donations. Most of the donations were small amounts made by hundreds of supporters of the cause,” Sanef said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
The SABC 8 noted that it would have been odd for Bosasa to donate to their fund when Bosasa was also paying a percentage of their former boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s legal fees.
Motsoeneng revealed to the Sunday Times in September 2018 that Bosasa had paid R1.2-million of the legal bill he incurred after it was found that he had wrongfully dismissed the SABC 8.
Read the statement from Sanef: