Vhahangwele Nemakonde
Digital Journalist
2 minute read
14 Nov 2018
1:54 pm

EFF given a week to prove ‘apartheid-era Stratcom spies’ allegation

Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Two prominent journalists have been demanding an apology and damages of R1 million each from the EFF.

FILE PICTURE: August 23, 2018 EFF leader Julius Malema addressed media in Johannesburg about the latest development in the country.

This is turning out to be a bad week for the red berets following a court ruling that gave them seven days to prove allegations that journalists Thandeka Gqubule and Anton Harber were apartheid-era Stratcom spies.

The ruling comes after a video was posted (and then removed) by the now defunct Huffington Post SA shortly after Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s death. It showed a clip from her 2017 interview in which she addressed how there were journalists hellbent on writing negative stories about her.

Madikizela-Mandela alleged: “There were reporters who specialised in writing very negative stories about me like Thandi [Thandeka] Gqubule. They were working for what was then called the Weekly Mail. I was pleasantly surprised to see Anton Harber talking like that because he was editor … and the Weekly Mail was so anti-ANC, anti-me. They actually did the job for Stratcom.”

Following the interview, the EFF released a statement condemning the two journalists and Sanef’s silence on the matter.

https://twitter.com/MbuyiseniNdlozi/status/984478520314421248

Following the statement, the two journalists gave party spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi a notice of a motion filed in the High Court in Johannesburg asking the party to retract their statement and apologise. They also demanded damages of R1 million each.

However, the EFF issued a response letter, stating that it simply forwarded allegations made by Madikizela-Mandela in an interview with a media house, and that Gqubule and Harber should take up a case against that third party.

But the journalists believed the EFF had a case to answer for, particularly since Madikizela-Mandela herself had never actually alleged that they were spies or on the payroll of the apartheid government. She was probably implying that, from her perspective, they had unwittingly been duped into spreading a narrative that suited the apartheid state.

Gqubule told eNCA at the time: “If somebody wants to jump around in a red onesie and call me a spy, that’s their prerogative. I think they can do that, it’s their right. But they must also respect my right to dignity, to truth, to being a journalist and my right to earn a living. The damage done or the damage that they attempted to do has been humongous; it’s difficult to even quantify.”

Now SAFM is reporting that the red berets have been given a week to prove the claim that Gqubule and Harber were apartheid-era spies.

Additional reporting by Eric Naki

Read more: ‘Apartheid-era Stratcom spy’ allegations against two senior journos could reach ConCourt

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