Daniel Friedman
3 minute read
8 Jul 2019
3:26 pm

I was violated for five years for exposing ‘rogue unit’ – Piet Rampedi

Daniel Friedman

The former Sunday Times journalist accuses several of his former colleagues of being involved in a cover-up driven by Pravin Gordhan.

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Neil McCartney

Former Sunday Times journalist Piet Rampedi, who resigned after the publication retracted its reports on the so-called Sars “rogue unit” in 2015, has taken to Twitter to make damning allegations against those he claims plotted to silence him and his colleagues.

According to Rampedi, who is currently investigations editor at Independent Media as well as editor at African Times, Tiso Blackstar founder Andrew Bonamour conspired with Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan in return for “commercial support”.

Rampedi accuses Bonamour of having “connived with Pravin Gordhan to sacrifice me, hound me out of [The Sunday Times], and lie about the existence of [the] ‘rogue unit’ in exchange for commercial support for Tiso”.

Following the release of a report by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on Friday, June 6, which found that reports on the establishment of the intelligence unit were “substantiated” and that Gordhan’s role in this was a violation of the constitution, Rampedi took to Twitter to share what he alleged was a cover-up of the truth on the part of Bonamour alongside several of the media company’s editors.

READ MORE: Gordhan lied to parliament, Zondo about Gupta meetings – Mkhwebane

Rampedi claims Bonamour, with the help of current Sunday Times editor Bongani Siqoko, Sowetan editor Sthembiso Msomi and Tiso Blackstar deputy managing director Moshoeshoe Monare tried to “force” him out, “kill” the “rogue unit” stories, “smear” him and “appease” Gordhan.

He further alleged that he was “violated” for five years for exposing the unit.

This, he said, involved “a clique of paid journos, columnists, NGOs, and authors” who smeared him, ordered politicians and advertisers not to support his publication, African Times, and blocked him from economic opportunities.

The President’s Keepers author Jacques Pauw is the only alleged “paid journo” mentioned by name.

Pauw has not yet responded to requests for comment. He has, however, been open, vocal and consistent in his criticism of the “rogue unit” reports.

“This was not just sloppy reporting or journalists that got it wrong. This was manufactured journalism that was meant to misinform and to ultimately damage our law-enforcement agencies. This was journalism that had a higher purpose: to keep Jacob Zuma in power and weaken and ultimately eliminate his enemies,” he wrote in 2018 on News24 in a piece titled ‘Exposing the puppet masters behind the Sunday Times scandal’.

Attempts on the part of The Citizen to contact Bonamour, Siqoko, Msomi, and Monare were instead responded to with a short statement from Tiso Blackstar.

READ MORE: Veteran journalists in messy twar over Sars story

“Tiso Blackstar Group has noted the inaccurate, false and fabricated statements from its former employee Piet Rampedi,” the statement reads.

“While we intend to respond to Mr Rampedi through a legal process, we wish to reiterate that the decision taken by the Sunday Times was not influenced by any external political or commercial pressure as alleged by Mr Rampedi,” it concludes.

Reports in The Sunday Times regarding the “rogue unit” were found to be “inaccurate, misleading, and unfair” by the press ombudsman and the newspaper was forced to apologise.

In 2015, the press ombudsman ruled that the Sunday Times must retract all stories on the “rogue unit saga” and to apologise to Pravin Gordhan as well as others implicated after Gordhan, former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay, and former Sars executive Johann van Loggerenberg lodged a complaint.

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