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‘Sunday Times’ parts ways with Mzilikazi wa Afrika and Stephan Hofstatter

Wa Afrika and Hofstatter were part of a group from the newspaper's investigative unit who wrote a number of stories which were later established to be false.

Investigative journalist Stephan Hofstatter. Picture: Radio 702.

JOHANNESBURG - Eyewitness News has learnt that the Sunday Times has parted ways with senior journalists Mzilikazi wa Afrika and Stephan Hofstatter.

Wa Afrika and Hofstatter were part of a group from the newspaper's investigative unit who wrote a number of stories which were later established to be false.

These include the so-called rogue unit at the South African Revenue Service (Sars) which led to the exodus of senior executives, a fallout among political players and the establishment of the Nugent Inquiry.

While offering yet another apology today, the Sunday Times says that it has reflected on its reporting of allegations of police killings in Cato Manor in KwaZulu-Natal, the illegal deportation of Zimbabweans and the Sars rogue unit.

While the paper says that something went wrong in the process of gathering these stories, it adds that it was manipulated by those with ulterior motives.

The consequences of these false stories have been dire and far-reaching, with many of those implicated criminally charged, suspended or have lost their jobs.

The Sunday Times has conceded that journalists have their own verification tools and should have used them better.

The paper's legal editor, Suzan Smuts, says that Wa Afrika and Hofstatter they were not fired, which suggests that they may have left on their own accord.

“They did a lot of good work on those stories, so basically there were two narratives involved and we focused on one and not the other, I think that’s the main thing.”

The paper has also decided to return all awards and cash prizes won by the journalists concerned, saying that accepting such accolades will be a negation of a higher journalistic ideal.

Earlier in October, former Sunday Times reporter Pearlie Joubert explained how she resigned from the newspaper because she had picked up on foul play.

Joubert worked as a member of the publication’s investigative unit moments leading up to the now falsified reports on the so-called Sars rogue unit.

Speaking to CapeTalk earlier in October, Joubert said she stepped down because she could no longer trust her colleagues at the Sunday Times.

“I received a series of emails from a person, I still don’t know who it was, that said I’m a whistleblower at Sars, and I want to talk to you. I sat with these emails and thought I can’t share this with my colleagues because I don’t trust them. Then I resigned because I had no other option.”

LISTEN: Pearlie Joubert: I resigned from 'Sunday Times' because I couldn't breathe

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