Sunday Times out to get us: DoC

Allegations in The Sunday Times of extravagant travel spending by Communications Minister Dina Pule will not stick, her department said on Monday.

The newspaper was continuing to peddle slander and salacious rumours in what appeared to be a desperate attempt to convict Pule in the court of public opinion, said department spokesman Wisani Ngobeni.

“We believe there is an attempt to convict the minister and the department in the court of public opinion. We must be careful as South Africans,” he said.

Ngobeni said the department was not aware of documents published in the Sunday Times as proof of Pule’s alleged R700,000 travels to Mexico and New York with her boyfriend Phosane Mngqibisa, her personal assistant, and a deputy director-general.

“We do not know the source of these documents and we do not have these documents on our records. We are unable to express a view on documents which we do not have knowledge of,” said Ngobeni.

“We do not have any record of the (published travel) documents; the department has no knowledge of them (the documents).”

He said The Sunday Times was well aware that the department and Pule could not publicly respond to the allegations because they were being investigated by Parliament’s ethics committee and the Public Protector.

“We must remember that South Africa is not a banana republic. We are a constitutional state and there are laws and regulations in this country,” said Ngobeni.

“When you make an allegation, you need to reflect which law was broken.”

The newspaper published what it claimed was a departmental travel form, on which Pule stated that Mngqibisa was travelling with her as a “companion”.

Ngobeni said the newspaper was clearly recycling information which was already in the public domain.

“We find it very strange because these matters are not new issues, they are being recycled. There is nothing new being presented in the latest allegations,” he said.

Deputy director-general Gift Buthelezi said the department would only comment on documents acquired through proper channels.

“What we need to respect is the management of the information of the state.”

The manner in which the document was shown cast doubt on the integrity of the department.

“You begin to ask yourself (questions) about the institution that handles such information. Unless Sunday Times gives us the documents… we regard those documents as not authentic,” said Buthelezi.

In March, the Sunday Times alleged that Mngqibisa organised the appointment of his relative, Lulama Makhoba, to the post of SABC CEO.

Pule is expected to explain the allegations when she appears before Parliament’s ethics committee on Wednesday and Thursday.

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Sunday Times out to get us: DoC