By Pinky Khoabane
It’s an all out war in the battle to claim the truth about the Rogue Unit story. Developments reached fever pitch last night when an alleged conversation between Alec Hogg and a Democratic Alliance (DA) activist Karin Morrow surfaced on Twitter. In it, the two are planning a campaign to attack former Sunday Times journalist, Piet Rampedi, in the media including having his Twitter account suspended.
Conspiracy to attack Piet Rampedi?
Morrow was quick to plead the victim of a violation of privacy. But instead of disputing the contents of the alleged conversation she was simply outraged that her DM (direct messages or private conversations) had been hacked and exposed to the public. “Im sure that’s not legal,” she protested. But hey, how about the conversation you are accused of having made? In the conversation, she asks Hogg to galvanise media friends to attack Rampedi and have his Twitter account suspended.
CSI Twitter goes ablaze
And in the process, CSI Twitter came out blazing. We were referred to the use of the English language in the “fake” conversation and that it didn’t match that of Hogg’s. Some refuted claims that you needed to follow each other to access DM. Then there was the issue of this conversation having been taken from an Android and was therefore legitimate. Our contributor Mxolisi Ka Nkomonde says he thinks the conversation was leaked by one of the people in the conversation as this was seemingly a group conversation or “one of them uses multiple phones which are logged in”. That is all Greek to me but by 18:00 last night, Rampedi’s account was frozen.
So in effect, the allegedly fake conversation became a reality. What Hogg disputed had been discussed actually took place. He’s said to have galvanised his Twitter followers and so seeing the number of complaints, Twitter acted and froze Rampedi’s account.
Last night’s developments follow a string of tweets, more than 80 of them, made by Rampedi on Saturday, in which he accused a cabal of racist white journalists who were out to discredit him. He also accused former SARS employee, Johann van Loggerenberg of orchestrating the campaign.
It’s now becoming clear that on the main, the players in the Rogue Unit are on one side, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and former SARS employees involved in the allegations, and on the other are Rampedi and Commissioner of SARS Tom Moyane. South Africa being what it is, the battle is now drawn on racial lines.
With Gordhan’s camp is a group of white media, the cabal of former Treasury employees including former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and white South Africans in the DA camp. Rampedi and Moyane have now amassed support from black people who feel they are victims of a campaign to cover-up the Rogue Unit saga.
Even retired judges have entered the fray. Judge Frank Kroon, in an investigation he conducted on the SARS unit, found it illegal and unlawful. Former Constitutional Court Judge Zak Yacoob confirmed in media reports that he had advised Gordhan on the unit and had advised that the unit was not unlawful.
Now, Im not a lawyer but I once asked one of the Concourt judges for legal advise and he declined on the basis that they were not allowed to give legal advice as this went against their oath. He explained that it was due to the fact that legal matters could end up at the ConCourt and they would be compromised. So, on what grounds did Yacoob advise Gordhan?
But in the propaganda war is the use of that famous family, Gupta. Rampedi is now called a Gupta. Until the Sunday Times retracted from some aspects of the Rogue Unit, two years or so after publishing, Rampedi was hailed for quality investigative journalism. He has also been scathing of the Guptas and you may wonder what the Guptas have to do with the SARS Wars.
It has become customary in South Africa today to use scare mongering and labels to silence voices with which we do not agree. The Guptas have become the standard response when an argument falls flat.
The extent of the propaganda machinery being waged in this case simply begs the question: Why is this case not allowed to go through due process and the legality or not of this unit determined by a court of law? Something has begun to smell too fishy!