The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) says it is alarmed by a statement from National Lotteries Commission‘s (NLC) chairperson, Professor Alfred Nevhutanda that the State Security Agency (SSA) must investigate journalists.

Nevhutanda recently appeared before Parliament’s Trade and Industry portfolio committee. He claims the NLC had “recently learnt” that the NLC’s computers had been hacked and “information about projects since 2001 was in the US, with a backup in the Western Cape”.

He says journalists were being paid to write “fake stories” about the misspending by the NLC, with the intention of bringing down the organisation.

Nevhutanda claims came soon after a story published in GroundUp by freelance journalist Raymond Joseph and community newspaper owner and publisher Anton van Zyl, exposed alleged multimillion-rand corruption involving NLC grants, as well as the awarding of a Lottery-funded contract to a company of which the brother of a senior NLC official was the sole director.

Nevhutanda’s statements also came against the background of an ongoing investigation by a group of investigative journalists into multimillion-rand grants to a variety of Lottery-funded projects.

Nevhutanda’s remarks reflect an extremely dangerous attitude where the media is being blamed for the NLC’s inherent problems.

The NLC tried to cast doubt on the integrity of the journalists involved and has asked the SSA to investigate their sources.

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