Retract Story or Face Defamation, ANC's Yengeni Tells Sunday Times
Johannesburg (Sapa) - Lawyers for ANC chief whip Tony Yengeni on Monday said that a defamation case would follow unless the Sunday Times retracted its weekend report headed "Chief Whip out to squash arms probe".
The newspaper reported that Yengeni was trying to squash the investigation into the government's R43 billion arms acquisition deal. Yengeni's legal representative, Mallinicks Attorneys, on Monday said in a statement: "The report is fundamentally inaccurate and/or untrue and unfair and is both defamatory and injurious."
Yengeni demanded that the Sunday Times publish an unqualified retraction and apology or face a defamation suit. The report, quoting unnamed ANC sources, said Yengeni and other senior party members had told colleagues who sat on the public accounts committee that the probe was not in the interest of the ANC or the government.
It said Yengeni had attempted to pressure members of the public accounts committee, but had been rebuffed by Deputy President Jacob Zuma. Zuma apparently told Yengeni to stop interfering after he reportedly refused to authorise travel expenses for members of the committee to travel to Pretoria to meet the four investigating units.
Yengeni apparently reversed the decision after Zuma intervened. On Sunday, Yengeni's spokesman Dennis Cruywagen said that there had been no attempt to stop the investigation. A report allegedly drawn up by disgruntled ANC members and leaked to Pan Africanist Congress MP Patricia de Lille last year fingered Yengeni and a host of other ANC leaders as having received kickbacks in the arms deal.
Yengeni was formerly chairman of Parliament's joint committee on defence.
With acknowledgement to Sapa and Woza.