A senior journalist at Bloemfontein-based Afrikaans newspaper Volksblad was allegedly assaulted by a local attorney as she was putting questions to a man who is reportedly a close associate of ANC secretary general Ace Magashule.
Marietjie Gericke told News24 a meeting was set up at the offices of Rossouw Attorneys on Tuesday so that she could put questions to local tycoon David Mothebe.
According to Gericke, she posed questions to Mothebe about lucrative tenders his company received from the Free State government in 2014 and 2015. She also had questions about Mothebe’s alleged close ties to Magashule and his life partner, Lydia Motsemme.
Netwerk24 earlier reported that large tenders which had been awarded to Mothebe Wheels and Mothebe Shuttle Services were being scrutinised.
According to that report, Mothebe’s company acted as a middleman in the purchase of a Nyala police vehicle, which Mothebe allegedly sold to the Mangaung Municipality for around R5.8m. According to Israel Kgamanyane, metro police chief, the vehicle was sold to Mothebe for R3.9m.
Gericke is also investigating other alleged irregularities, including the purchase of 10 buses from Mothebe at R5.5m each for the Hauweng public bus service. Gericke said Mothebe agreed to meet her at 08:00 to answer her questions.
Instead, she said, she was met by a very hostile attorney Roelie Rossouw, who sat opposite her and Mothebe. She was instructed not to address Mothebe or look at him.
“I had prepared a set of questions and started to ask them, but Rossouw told me Mothebe wasn’t obligated to answer them. He said I should ask the government about the tenders, not Mothebe. He said Mothebe didn’t have to discuss his business interests with me.”
Rossouw told her that her allegations were unfounded.
After realising she was getting nowhere, she asked if she could take pictures. When this request was met with no response, she took out her cellphone and took a picture of Rossouw.
“He [Rossouw] then bolted around his desk and grabbed me by the arm in an attempt to get to my cellphone.” Rossouw then allegedly left the room with Gericke’s cellphone and went to another office.
Gericke has since laid a charge of assault against Rossouw at the Parkweg police station in Bloemfontein.
News24 attempted to get hold of Rossouw at his office on Wednesday but was told he was not available.
Charles Smith, Netwerk24’s head of news in the Free State and Northern Cape, said the alleged assault of one of his journalists was unacceptable.
*Full article appears on Crime News 24