A forensic investigation by Deloitte has “found no evidence” that any payment was made out by Bosasa to the SABC8’s crowdfunding campaign in 2016.
In a statement released on Monday, South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) said it commissioned the forensic investigation following allegations published in TimesLive in January that embattled company Bosasa – now known as African Global Operations – paid R100 000 to the campaign.
“Based on the information obtained and corroborated from a variety of sources and procedures, Deloitte found no evidence that any payment was made by Bosasa or entity or persons related to Bosasa to the SABC8 campaign in 2016,” the statement reads.
The SABC8 is a group of journalists who were suspended in 2016 for speaking out about censorship at the public broadcaster. They were suspended by then chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
The SABC8 was made up of Vuyo Mvoko, Thandeka Gqubule, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay, Lukhanyo Calata, Foeta Krige, Jacques Steenkamp and Busisiwe Ntuli. Sanef treasurer Adriaan Basson created the crowdfunding campaign to help the eight fight back against their suspensions.
Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase said, in the statement, that the final report by Deloitte “puts to rest the question [of] whether Bosasa contributed to the SABC8 crowdfunding campaign.”
Mahlase also told the Mail & Guardian that Sanef asked for the audit “because of the damage the report had on the SABC8, Sanef and the wider industry. Journalism depends on trust and credibility”.
The allegation that Bosasa made the donation was published by TimesLive which reported that it had seen a leaked email from former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi to company officials Carlos Bonifacio, Jacques van Zyl and former chief financial officer Andries van Tonder. The email allegedly gave instructions for the donation to the fund.
As part of the investigation, Deloitte validated the information provided in the database of the crowdfunding campaign donors. The company also reviewed all donors to establish any links to Bosasa and probed the use of funds from the campaign. Deloitte also checked the bank accounts of Sanef and Basson for the time when the campaign was active.
Sanef said it will now set up a meeting with the editors of TimesLive to “convey our displeasure about the way in which this false story was handled”.