South Africa: Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s Press Statement On the Media Campaign By the Independent Newspapers

Minister’s press statement on the media campaign by the independent newspapers

1. On 20 October 2022, the Star newspaper owned by the Sekunjalo Group of Companies published a prominent article entitled “More ANC graft and sex scandals” in both its print and electronic platforms. The article contained unfounded and what was intended to be damaging allegations of corruption against a hard-working member of the Counter Corruption Branch within the Department of Home of Home Affairs (“DHA”), Mr Eric Nendauni and alleged sexual misconduct by the Minister of Home Affairs (“Minister”) and the Head of the Counter Corruption Branch, Adv Connie Moitse. The allegations are said to emanate from what the journalists claim is “a whistle-blower” but in fact it has been discovered that the lies came from a disgruntled junior administrative clerk in the employ of the DHA.

Corruption and womanising allegations against Mr Nendauni

2. The so-called whistle-blower (who remains a single source), who the two journalists relied on to allege (without any shred of evidence) that “Mr Nendauni had cases allocated to him to investigate issuing of permits to foreign nationals without proper procedures and documentation. He decided to take R20 000 from each colleague and cases were closed without charging them”.

3. The so-called whistle-blower further alleged that Mr Nendauni went on a drinking spree in the company of two unidentified women and misused the state vehicle. The women later robbed him as he did not pay the females money that was due to them. He was later protected by the Head of the Anti-Corruption Unit.

4. First, the two journalists in typical gutter journalism decided to publish the unverified allegations.

5. Second, the DHA would like to respond to the allegations of corruption and misuse of the state vehicle unfairly levelled against Mr Nendauni and would like to share with the public the following facts:

5.1. Mr Nendauni does not take any alcohol at all and hence can never go on a drinking spree as alleged by the Star newspaper. On Saturday, 9 September 2022, he went to the office from 11h00 to 16h00 as he was preparing documentation for the appearance in Court of individuals he had arrested, together with the members of the South Africa Police Service (“SAPS”) for issuing fraudulent passports and identity documents.

5.2. At about 17h00, he went to Soshanguve to a friend’s house-warming party using his own Audi vehicle with registration number: CM 97 PB GP. Mr Nendauni does not drive a state vehicle “Polo Sedan” with registration number: “KG 64 WG GP”. In fact that vehicle does not even exist in the fleet of vehicles under the control of the DHA. Whilst at the said party, an invited guest came with two women (who were not invited to the party). When he left at about 18h45, his friend gave him two Appletisers and he opened one. As he was about to leave the two women (who were not invited to the party) requested a lift from him to be drop off in Tshwane Central. He informed them it was not on his way to his home. They then requested to be dropped at Akasia. On the way, he had an opened Appletiser and one was still closed. He stopped to answer the call of nature. When returned, he had another sip of the opened Appletiser. All of a sudden, he felt numb on his legs and became unconscious.

5.3. When his wife realised that he did not come back home (which he has not done before), she phoned his colleagues who went to the office and could not find him and the state vehicle was parked in the garage. They advised his wife to open a case of a missing person under CAS 05/09//22. The police contacted tracker to trace the location of his vehicle. Whilst awaiting the outcome from tracker, a woman called his wife and told her he found her husband in his vehicle and he appeared dizzy and incoherent. She rushed to the scene, together with the police. She realized that his wallet and mobile phone were missing. Mr Nendauni was rushed to Akasia Hospital and the tests revealed that his drink was spiked with a known drug. When the police were informed about the results, they indicated that there is a gang of women robbers, who attend parties normally uninvited and later spike the drinks of their victims and rob them of their belongings.

5.4. Mr Nendauni was robbed of an amount of R 2 300 and a further amount R 2000 was sent via e-wallet, The investigation into the robbery, attempted murder and theft by members of the SAPS is ongoing.

5.5. The allegation of Mr Nendauni receiving bribes from his colleagues were thoroughly investigated and no evidence was found to support this wild allegation.

6. It is common cause that the DHA has taken effective steps to curb corrupt activities by its officials, which resulted in some of them being arrested and/or dismissed. There are other pending disciplinary cases. The Minister finds the malicious allegations against Mr Nendauni to be in bad taste and unacceptable. Clearly, the unsubstantiated allegations are meant to tarnish the reputation of corruption-busters within the DHA. The Minister believes that the Star newspaper is pursuing a nefarious agenda which is not geared towards promotion of freedom of the press by defending rascals masquerading as “whistle- blowers”. It is also not in the public interest as the journalists were prepared to throw out of the window all the ethical and standards governing fair reporting. The public cannot be fooled into believing nonsensical allegations. This begs the question as to what is the role of the Star newspaper in the fight against corruption and fraud in South Africa?

Allegations of a romantic relationship between the Minister and Adv Moitse

7. The allegations regarding the imaginary romantic relationship between the Minister and Adv Moitse deserves no response by the Minister. They are meant to make the article appear to be carrying sensational and juicy breaking news.

8. The Minister and the DHA will not be deterred from fighting corruption, fraud and illegal migration whenever they rear their ugly head based on spurious allegations. This is nothing but a fight-back strategy by criminals operating within and outside the DHA.

9. In future, the DHA will not respond to specific questions from the Star newspaper. Instead the DHA will issue a public statement in response to the questions, including the questions sent to the DHA by the Star newspaper on 25 October 2022 effectively giving the DHA 04 hours to respond to some historical issues.

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