The Sunday Times says that after three days of assessing allegations against Tiso Blackstar associate editor Ranjeni Munusamy, it withdrew her column in last weekend’s edition of the newspaper.
The publication said that it learnt of the allegations last week when Munusamy was informed by the Zondo commission, looking into state capture, that she was to be implicated in testimony before it.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Tiso Black Star said Munusamy had been placed on special leave while internal investigations were under way.
On Thursday, News24 reported that Senior Hawks investigator Colonel Kobus Roelofse told the inquiry he had contacted Munusamy at least three times in 2014 about allegations regarding a Crime Intelligence secret slush fund.
“I did, in fact, contact Ms Munusamy. I informed her of what I found and asked her for her version and explanation,” he told the commission on his third day of testimony.
“I spoke to her about three times and she said she would speak to her legal representative. I didn’t receive any communications from her,” he said.
Roelofse told the commission the day before that alleged payments made to Munusamy were discovered while investigating claims of corruption between Crime Intelligence officers and Atlantis Motors, which is based in Centurion.
“We were able to uncover an amount of R143 621.78. It was paid from the Atlantis Motors business account to Wesbank vehicle finance account in the settlement agreement of the vehicle in the name of Ms Ranjeni Munusamy. As far as I know, she is a journalist,” he said.
The amount was debited on July 30, 2008.
He alleged that the money came from an account within the Atlantis motors account.
However, he said his investigations did not establish why Munusamy received the money.
Munusamy told News24 she would defend herself against the allegations.
“I deny the allegations made against me at the Zondo commission today. They are baseless. I am working with my lawyers to draft a response to the allegations for the commission, with whom I am co-operating fully,” she said.
The Tiso Blackstar statement said Munusamy joined the media house in 2017 after leaving Daily Maverick.
“The company was unaware of any investigation involving Munusamy. At the time she was engaged as an independent contractor.”
Daily Maverick also issued a statement saying it noted the allegations but added that she was not in journalism at the time.
“Munusamy was an important part of the Daily Maverick team from April 2012, till July 2017. In those five years as Daily Maverick Associate Editor, she distinguished herself through her peerless understanding of the South African political scene and strong work ethic. We were sad to see her leave for Tiso Media/Sunday Times,” the statement read.
Daily Maverick further stated that it prescribes to the principle of “presumed innocent until proven guilty”.
“Accordingly, we look forward to Munusamy proving her innocence and welcoming her back soon into the journalism fold,” the statement concluded.