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Naidu wants perjury charges against Mona

2nd December 2003

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Hefer Commission evidence leader Kessie Naidu announced yesterday that he would recommend perjury charges be pressed against former City Press editor Vusi Mona.

He would further ask that journalist Ranjeni Munusamy be called again to testify before the commission.

Naidu plans to argue both cases on Friday before Judge Joos Hefer.

He made these announcements at the start of Monday's public commission hearing in Bloemfontein. Both were in the light of a front-page apology to national director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka that the City Press had published on Sunday.

Acting City Press editor Wally Mbhele stated on Sunday that it had become clear there were no credible substance to reports suggesting that Ngcuka was or could have been an apartheid spy.

City Press was the first to reveal the spy allegations against Ngcuka, which triggered the appointment of the Hefer Commission.

The first report was mainly authored by Munusamy. She handed City Press the story after her own editor, Mathatha Tshedu of the rival Sunday Times, refused to publish it.

Mbhele denied on Sunday Mona's earlier testimony that he had consulted his senior editorial staff before deciding to run the story in City Press.

He added that it had since become apparent that the information given to City Press at the time of publication was "devoid of truth, contrived and misleading".

Naidu said yesterday he would ask Hefer to refer Mona's evidence to the provincial director of public prosecutions to consider a charge of perjury.

Mona admitted to recklessness, among others, when he testified before the commission last week. Naidu repeatedly questioned whether he was speaking the truth.

At one stage Hefer admonished Mona to speak the truth, particularly the whole truth, as required by the oath he took.

Munusamy refused to testify before the commission when she was called earlier.

She is currently attempting to obtain the courts' protection from testifying before Hefer.

The Bloemfontein High Court has already dismissed her appeal against Hefer's ruling that she must testify. She has since applied to the high court for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court.

Arguments have not yet been heard in this application.

Munusamy's main argument so far was that testifying before the commission may force her to reveal confidential sources.

Naidu's announcement yesterday indicates that he believes there are, despite the pending appeal process, still reasonable grounds to subpoena her again to testify in the meantime. – Sapa.

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