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South Africa21 October 2003

Judge orders journalist to reveal her sources

Reporters Without Borders protested today against a South Africa judge ordering a journalist to reveal her sources to support claims that national director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka was a spy for the intelligence services under the country’s white minority apartheid regime.

A commission of enquiry headed by Judge Joos Hefer said on 16 October that Ranjeni Munusamy, formerly with the Sunday Times, must disclose them despite objections by her lawyers.

"We are astonished the commission is doing this," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard. "South Africa has shown its commitment to freedom of expression, so it would be regrettable if a commission looking into a dark period of the country’s history violated such a basic principle of journalism."

Munusamy accused Ngcuka in an article in City Press on 7 October and said she had documentary evidence. Since the Hefer Commission ordered to reveal these sources, she has received threatening phone calls warning that she will be harmed if she does.

Munusamy has stressed that she will not testify before the commission. The High Court will rule on 3 November whether she is legally obliged to or not. Judge Hefer has turned to other journalists to give evidence but all have refused to do so until the High Court has ruled.



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