The Sunday Times newspaper has apologised for its false reporting on allegations of police killings in Cato Manor in Durban, a South African Revenue Service (SARS) rogue unit, and the illegal deportation of Zimbabweans.

The stories were written by a team of senior journalists and published in the paper in 2011.

The newspaper says in today’s edition it will also return all prize money and awards won on the stories.

It admits the consequences of these stories have been dire, as some of those who were implicated have been criminally charged, others suspended and some even lost their jobs.

The paper has since parted ways with two senior journalists, Mzilikazi wa Africa and Stephan Hofstatter. The pair were a part of the papers investigative team that wrote a number of stories which were later established to be false.

The stories include the so called Rogue Unit at SARS which led to the formation of the Nugent Inquiry. The Sunday Times says having apologised for such failures does not necessarily mean that they will in future not report stories that are tainted by a parallel political project.

It says it was misled by those with ulterior motives. Sunday Times Legal Editor, Susan Smuts says Wa Africa and Hofstatter were not fired.

The South African National Editors Forum, SANEF, says the latest Sunday Times saga should be a lesson to all journalists and editors in the country.

SANEF Deputy Chairperson Katy Katopodis says: “What we’ve learned as an industry is that every single journalist and editor in this country needs to use this as an opportunity to intersect, and we need to ensure that we lock all our systems, and ensure that we’ve got the correct processes in place. So that never again will a member of the South African media  be caught out in the same manner that the Sunday times was caught out in.”