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Oppelt: Joubert is an embittered person

Phylicia Oppelt says Pearlie Joubert clearly breached her ethical obligations as a journalist.

FILE: Sunday Times Editor Phylicia Oppelt. Picture: Phylicia Oppelt Facebook page.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Sunday Times Editor Phylicia Oppelt says an affidavit by the paper's former reporter Pearlie Joubert claiming her ex-husband influenced its coverage of the South African Revenue Service (Sars) spy unit scandal is the construct of an embittered person.

Oppelt has now formally responded to Joubert's claim that her ex-husband, Rudolph Mastenbroek, was the original source of the paper's claims that Sars was running an illegal spy unit.

Mastenbroek was eventually appointed to the Kroon Commission, which endorsed findings that led to former Sars Deputy Commissioner Ivan Pillay and the unit's head Johan van Loggerenberg leaving the organisation.

In a statement on the Sunday Times website, Oppelt says when they first heard of Joubert's claims, they instituted an independent investigation.

She says none of those accusations, no matter how malicious or driven by a personal agenda, were found to have substance specifically the claim that her former husband held sway in the report on Sars.

Oppelt says Joubert has also failed to address the nature of her relationship with Loggerenberg and did not mention that she felt uncomfortable about the Sars stories when she resigned.

Oppelt says that involved Joubert clearly breaching her ethical obligations as a journalist.

Oppelt says to give any credence to Joubert's affidavit is to fundamentally undermine the reputation and integrity of the paper's investigative unit.

She also says Joubert's relationship with other investigative reporters broke down because she clearly breached her ethical obligations on a matter unrelated to this case.