Pule asked to provide facts or apologise

Sunday Times editor says Minister Dina Pule should back her claims against the paper with facts.

Communications Minister Dina Pule. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - The Sunday Times has returned fire with fire as it claims the so-called puppet masters mentioned by Communications Minister Dina Pule are actually business associates of her alleged boyfriend Phosane Mngqibisa.

In a statement, editor Phylicia Oppelt has defended her journalists by saying that Pule repeatedly avoided to explain her relationship with Mngqibisa.

The Minister maintains she has no romantic relationship with the businessman.

Pule said her blistering attack on the paper and some of its journalists was a last resort to defend her integrity.

She said for 10 months she has kept quiet while the newspaper has been dragging her name in the mud by claiming she was corrupt.

'SMEAR CAMPAIGN'

Pule accused the paper of violating the press code after she said the paper spearheaded a smear campaign against her.

The Minister said she will be lodging a complaint with the press ombudsman as the newspaper continued slandering her week after week since last year.

The newspaper has been reporting that Pule's alleged boyfriend had been meddling in the work of her office and that she appointed her friends to important posts.

Oppelt has dared the Minister to back her claims against the paper with facts or apologise.

In a statement, Oppelt said she found it disturbing that the Minister called a press conference using her department's money to fight her personal battles.

Meanwhile, Pule has slammed the paper of allowing itself to be used as a tool by powerful businessmen in a battle for a tender worth millions of rands.

She said her department was in possession of hard evidence linking three Sunday Times journalists to powerful businessmen vying for a tender in her Ministry.

ALLEGATIONS AND RESIGNATIONS

Meanwhile, Pule has maintained she would not resign despite reports alleging she's corrupt and that she's let her romantic partner run her department.

The Minister has dismissed the reports as claims made in a calculated effort to discredit her.

The Sunday Times has been publishing articles detailing why organisations under Pule have been failing and linking the failures to the fact that she employs her close friends to positions of power.

But Pule said the reports were influenced by powerful businessmen who have an interest in securing a multimillion rand tender her department will be issuing.

She has however refused to name the companies involved.

"I have consulted and now think that the Sunday will be able to tell you who these companies and business people are."

Pule has now set her sights on next week's meeting with Parliament's Integrity Committee which is tasked with probing all the allegations against her.