POLITICS

Text of Ashley Smith's confession

Former Cape Argus reporter explains how he became Ebrahim Rasool's hired gun

AFFIDAVIT

I, the undersigned,

ASHLEY SMITH

make oath and say that:

1. I am an adult male person, identity number 7306085252082, currently residing at 15 Ficus Street, Tygerdal, Goodwood. My telephone number is 0737010823. I am currently unemployed, but by profession I am a journalist.

2. The facts contained herein fall within my personal knowledge, unless the contrary appears from the context, and are true.

INTRODUCTION

3. This is an affidavit I make to present to the office of the NPA by prior arrangement, as a basis to request an indemnity from prosecution.

4. At the time of making this affidavit I am not certain whether I had indeed transgressed the laws of South Africa, but I am informed that crimes of corruption may have been committed based on the facts contained herein.

5. This statement is based on the information I gave to my attorney and based on the questions asked by my attorney. I am prepared to make further statements to the NPA, should they require further information, should they agree to provide me with indemnity in respect of any crimes I may have committed based on the facts set out below.

6. I must further ad that the attorney who assisted me with this affidavit is the attorney for Independent Newspapers. The editor of the Cape Argus, Gasant Abarder and the Cape Town group editor, Chris Whitfield has asked the attorney to assist me. Insofar as he is assisting me herein, he does so on my behalf and does not have a conflict of interest, as far as I am concerned.

7. In this affidavit I will deal with the following headings:
7.1. My background as a journalist;
7.2. My involvement with a certain Zain Orrie;
7.3. My reporting on a certain Intelligence Report in 2003;
7.4. A company called Inkwenkwezi Communications;
7.5. A company called Hip Hop Media;
7.6. My conclusions.
8. The purpose of this statement is to deal with the facts under the above headings superficially. I made the statement with a sense of urgency, as I wished to get the information to the NPA as soon as possible after unburdening my soul. There may therefore be detail that I have omitted, but I will fill in such particulars as may be required later.

9. I also make the affidavit entirely from my memory relating to facts spanning a few years. Some of my recollections about dates and time may not be accurate, but I should be able to correct these when a more comprehensive statement is made.

MY BACKGROUND IN JOURNALISM

10. I commenced studying journalism at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology ("Pentech") as it was then known, during 1995.

11. I started my in-service training, a requirement of the course at Pentech, with the Cape Argus newspaper towards the end June [1996].

12. During July [1997] I was offered a permanent position as a reporter with the Cape Argus newspaper and decided not to complete my studies, but rather accept the position of employment. The editor of the Cape Argus newspaper at the time of my employment was Shaun Johnson.

13. During my in-service period I did duty as a night reporter. After my permanent employment I was first directed to be a Magistrates' Court reporter and later I worked as High Court reporter.

14. Just before the 2000 municipal elections, I was interviewed by the then political editor of the Cape Argus, Adrian Hadland, for a position on the political desk of the newspaper. I was introduced by him and another senior journalist at the Cape Argus, Joe Aranes, to senior municipal managers and became the metro reporter, dealing with issues relating to the City of Cape Town. I also covered the first municipal elections for Cape Town. From that time I worked primarily covering politics and general reporting.

15. During the course of my employment with the Cape Argus during this first period of my employment (until 2001), Moegsien Williams replaced Johnson as editor of the newspaper.

16. In or about May 2001, I was asked by Chris Whitfield, then editor of the Cape Times newspaper, to become senior political writer for the Cape Times newspaper. (I pause here to mention that the Cape Argus and the Cape Times are both newspapers owned by Independent Newspapers (Proprietary) Limited ("Independent") and my employer did not change. I stayed with the Cape Times until 2003.

17. During my period at the Cape Times my political connections in journalism grew and accordingly my status as political reporter.

18. In 2003 I was approached by a newly formed newspaper, This Day, to join them. I decided to take the position they offered and resigned from the Cape Times. However, before taking up the position with This Day, I got cold feet due to rumours about the financial viability of the new newspaper and I never took up the new position. The Weekend Argus almost immediately offered me a 6 month contract to be renewed until a permanent position became available and I subsequently received and accepted such an offer for a permanent position with the Cape Argus.

19. Before the 2004 elections, it must have been before April 2004, I was asked by Moegsien Williams, who had in the meantime left the Cape Argus and took up position as editor of the Star newspaper (also in the Independent group) to join a special investigations unit for the group, working out of Johannesburg. I agreed and moved to Johannesburg in or about February 2004 and stayed there until approximately September 2004, when I returned to work at the Cape Argus.

20. In November 2005 I was suspended from my employment pending disciplinary investigations into allegations that I was being paid to write favourable reports for the Premier of the Western Cape and I resigned from my employment in April 2006, before the disciplinary process was concluded.

MY RELATIONSHIP WITH ZAIN ORRIE

21. I first met Zain Orrie ("Orrie") approximately 3 months before the
2000 municipal elections. I was introduced to Orrie=e by Cameron Dugmore ("Dugmore"), a member of the African National Congress. At the time Dugmore told me that he had a story for me and Dugmore introduced Orrie to me as a type of "go between" person.

22. The story that I received related to allegations made by a certain Frieda Adams against Peter Marais. Orrie assisted at the time in making recordings and I understood him to be (or at least he saw himself to be) a behind-the-scene agent doing intelligence and undercover work for the African National Congress and being close to Ebrahim Rassool. At times Ome said to me that he was an ex-military operative in the ANC and also that he was part of the VIP security service of the ANC at the time when it was unbanned. I have no first hand knowledge of these allegations.

23. Orrie's role in the investigation I did about Peter Marais was to have recording equipment installed to record Adam's telephone conversation, with her consent.

24. My understanding about Ome's involvement at the time of the Frieda Adams revelations about Peter Marais was that the purpose of his involvement was to get the ANC into power in the Western Cape.

25. I developed a close relationship with Orrie and we regularly met, as friends and in the context that later developed as business partners and when we assisted Rasool.

THE 2003 INTELLIGENCE REPORT

26. In 2003, before the ANC's list meeting, to determine the list of ANC representative for the 2004 elections, I received a call from Orrie to meet him at the House of Coffees, a restaurant near my work at that time.

27. At the meeting I met a source who I am not prepared to identify, as the source spoke to me on an agreement of anonymity. (I pause to state that, whilst I concede that I breached the principles of journalistic integrity, the revelation of the identity of a source would constitute further breach of integrity. The name of the source is not germane to the subject matter herein.) The source presented me with a report that was identified as an intelligence report. The report was apparently prepared on a broad range of security aspects in the Western Cape, but also specifically dealt with the in-fighting between three groupings in the Western Cape, namely a "Christian Coloured grouping", the "Africanist Grouping" and the Rasool group.

28. I strongly suspected that the purpose of passing the intelligence report on to me was to get me to report on the report and to thereby get the "list conference" of the ANC postponed.

29. I went about making inquiries and discovered off the record that the report was an NIA report.

30. Whilst not clearly stated at the time, I strongly suspect that the 2003 leaking of the report was the first attempt by Ebrahim Rasool ("Rasool") , with the assistance of Orrie, to use me as a journalist to smear Mcebisi Skwatsha ("Skwatsha") in their political rivalry.

31. I wrote a series of articles about the three political groupings based on the intelligence report. They were all published in the Weekend Argus. Thereafter some pressure was brought upon me by certain persons in the intelligence community, particularly not to write about other matters contained in the security report. I decided not to write further articles and did so without reference to my editor at the time, Di Powell.

INKWENKWEZI

32. When I returned to Cape Town from Johannesburg during the latter part of 2004, Joseph Aranes ("Aranes") and I discussed setting up business for ourselves. The idea we had was to establish a media consultancy and work for it permanently once it could sustain us.

33. In about October 2004 Aranes and I met with Orrie to discuss our plans. Orrie and Aranes were not particularly close at that time. Neither was there a close relationship between Aranes and Rasool. However, we spoke about the possibility of starting a business with Orrie's assistance.

34. At that time I was engaged to be married to a certain Joy van der Heyde ("Van der Heyde"), a qualified lawyer who was employed by the Cape Law Society.

35. In early 2005, Van der Heyde resigned her employment at the Cape Law Society. Aranes, Orrie, Van der Heyde and I had further meetings, at which Orrie assured Van der Heyde that he would find some form of employment for her.

36. In or about late February, early March 2005, the four of us decided to form a company called Inkwenkwezi Communications. The agreement was that Aranes, Orrie and I would each have one third interest in the company, but that 100% of the shares would be held by Orrie. Van Der Heyde and Orrie would be the directors of the company. I attach hereto marked "AS 1" a copy of a search from Lexis Nexis depicting the company information.

37. The clearly understood idea behind the company was that Aranes and I would write the strategy documents and proposals for state tenders, and that these would be presented by Van der Heyde to the relevant parties. Up to that point she had no background in media or communications. Orrie's role was to use his political influence to ensure that tenders would be granted. Orrie regularly said that because of his influence with Rasool and Fransman, work would be guaranteed from the MEC's in provincial government.

38. From the time that we started, Aranes, Orrie and I regularly met at the River Club in Cape town to discuss business strategies. These meetings were usually held on Saturday mornings. I refer to these meetings later.

39. At the start of Inkwenkwezi, I was of the view that we were embarking on a legitimate business venture, insofar as it related to my integrity as a journalist. Apart from the fact that I was doing undisclosed moonlighting without the knowledge of my employer, I do not think that I had any intention to breach journalistic integrity. However, prior to the 2005 ANC Western Cape conference, it had become clear that Rasool's political life was on the line and it was around this time that I started receiving calls to meet with Rasool at Leeuwenhof, the Premier of the Western Cape's official residence, for meetings. These meetings were often held at irregular hours, often late at night. Always present at these meetings were the three Inkwenkwezi members. Some of the meetings were attended by Marius Fransman and others by Leonard Ramakatlane.

40. At these meetings Rasool referred to us, the Inkwekwezi trio, as his "airforce", meaning his front line of attack against the Skwatsha camp or his other political rivals. It was also at these meetings that Orrie would say that it was difficult to fly the planes when the fuel tanks are dry, suggesting we couldn't do the work without payment.

41. By the time we had the so-called "airforce meetings", I had already regarded my integrity as journalist being compromised. This was for the following reasons:

41.1. The understanding between the Inkwenkwezi group and Rasool was that we would assist Rasool with media advice and in return Inkwenkwezi would receive business from the Provincial Government.

41.2. No direct payment was discussed, but, the understanding was that the award of tender was compensation for the work we were doing resulting from the "airforce meetings".

41.3. As journalists Aranes and I had not been offered any payment for the support to Rasool, but I, at least, already felt that I could not write negative reports about Rasool or his allies.

41.4. My fiancé and later wife, Van der Heyde, received her salary from Inkwenkwezi. As the understanding was that Inkwenkwezi would receive work from the Department heads who were Rasool's allies, I felt compromised and obliged to continue doing the work for Rasool and attending the "airforce meetings".

41.5. The payments referred to below, clearly had an influence on the way we were reporting matters.

42. Approximately 6 weeks before the 2005 ANC conference, Orrie escorted me to a meeting of the Western Cape Security Assoiation, a group representing primarily security companies owned my members of the Western Cape Coloured community. At the meeting I was presented with information about alleged tender irregularities involving companies and close corporations involving Skwatsha, including Juma Securities and Guardian Security.

43. It was clear that the information was presented to me with the June 2005 ANC conference in mind.

44. I refused to personally do the story, as I was concerned that it could be traced back to me. Aranes, Orrie and I later met at the Inkwenkwezi offices where we compiled a media release. Van der Heyde typed the release for us and we arranged that she would deliver it anonymously to the offices of the Sunday Times Newspaper and the Mail & Guardian Newspaper.

45. Both the Sunday Times and the Mail & Guardian newspapers published articles on the subject, which was a direct result of Inkwenkwezi's support for Rasool.

46. The general discussion at the "airforce meeting" at the time leading up to the June 2005 conference was that we, as the "airforce", had to stir up enough mud around the Skwatsha faction in the ANC, with the view to get the national management of the ANC to intervene and thus ensure Rasool's continuity as the Premier and leader of the Western Cape ANC.

47. As regards the work that Inkwenkwezi procured from the Provincial Government, I recall the process as follows:

47.1. During March 2005, Aranes, Fransman and I met to discuss a communications strategy for the Human Settlements Department for the Provincial Government.

47.2. We broadly agreed on the process and Fransman then agreed to allow us, that is Inkwenkwezi, to apply through the closed tender system for a consultancy appointment.

47.3. A proposal was prepared by Aranes and I and submitted by Van der Heyde. I attach hereto marked "AS 2" a copy of the proposal. I also attach, marked "AS 3" to "AS 13" an assortment of documents relating to the tender, that has been in the possession of my attorney at the time of making this affidavit.

48. Most of the media work for the consultancy was performed by me and Aranes, with Van der Heyde presenting it where required. Neither Orrie nor Van der Heyde, at the time, had any real experience as a media consultant.

49. During 2005, at times and dates that I do not recall, Aranes, Orrie and I continued to have regular meetings at the River Club on Saturday mornings. The meetings were to discuss lnwkenkwezi business.

50. At three or four of these meetings Ome would present to Aranes and me cash in sums ranging between R5,000.00 and R10,000.00 for each of us at a time. Aranes and I took the cash on the understanding that it was our payment for the work done for Inkwenkwezi. I never received any of these payments in forms other than cash, but I do believe that an electronic funds transfer was once made into Aranes' bank account. Unfortunately I cannot recall the exact dates the payments were made. There is no doubt in my mind that the payments were our share of Inkwenkwezi income.

51. The whole issue relating to Inkwenkwezi's relationship with the office of the Premier came to the fore in the following manner:

51.1. In March 2005, Van der Heyde signed an invoice, addressed to the office of the Premier of the Western Cape, and sent the invoice to the Premier's office. A copy of the invoice and supporting documents are attached hereto marked "AS 14".

51.2. The invoice was presented to the Premier's office on 19 April 2005.

51.3. Someone in the Premier's office approached an accredited service provider to the Provincial Government and the Premier's office, Oryx Communications, to arrange for payment of the invoice through their office.

51.4. Although I do not have first hand knowledge of the entire process, I have been told by Aranes that a certain Alan Roberts ("Roberts") had approached Bennie Gool ("Gool") and Roger Friedman ("Friedman") of Oryx Communications some time and presented them with the invoice, stating at the time that he did not know why the Premier wished to pay Aranes and me R100,000.00.

51.5. Following Robert's approach to Gool and Friedman, Aranes received an SMS message from Friedman, asking him what it was all about. It was from this point in time that Aranes and I knew that we could possibly be exposed as the parties behind Inkwenkwezi.

51.6. To the best of my knowledge the approach to Oryx Communications occurred after a certain Ramona Jacobs ("Jacobs") signed a letter addressed to Oryx Communications asking for assistance in settling the R100,000.00 statement of account. Jacobs was, until 30 November 2005, a secretary in the Premier's office, reporting to Ashoek Adhikari, the CEO in the office of the Premier.

51.7. The facts surrounding the attempt to have the payment cleared through the offices of Oryx Communications were investigated by Independent during the disciplinary process mentioned before. During the investigations the Premier wrote a letter to the investigator, Jacques Louw ("Louw"), who is also the attorney assisting me with this affidavit.

51.8. In a letter addressed to Louw, a copy of which is attached hereto marked "AS 15", The premier explained the situation as follows:

The Premier has for many years worked closely with Mr Zain Orrie. When the situation in Bokmakierie reached worrying proportions in terms of Coloured- African relations, the occupation of the Spes Bona School hostel, and in terms of the role played by opposition parties, the Premier asked Mr Orrie personally to assist in finding a resolution that would not exacerbate such tensions.

The work done was not understood to be work to be done by Inkwenkwezi but by Mr. Orrie, as asked for personally by the Premier. Without going into details, an amicable resolution was reached.

Inkwenkwezi was not invited to tender for the work asked of Mr Orrie because, according to the Premier, he was merely utilizing Mr Orrie's skills. There was, therefore, no way that Mr Orrie personally or through Inkwenkwezi could be remunerated.

As stated, the request was made by the Premier to Mr Orrie. Mr Orrie and/or Inkwenkwez it is clear now, was under the impression that they could bill the Department of the Premier for the work done by Mr Orrie. The Department of the Premier, did receive an invoice from Inkwenkwezi and it knew that there was no record of procurement and that, therefore, there could not be payment. The official concerned used initiative by suggesting that Oryx could enter into a subcontracting relationship with Inkwenkwezi. When this was discovered, the Premier made every effort to stop any such process because it was not his understanding that Inkwenkwezi would bill us for the assistance he requested of Mr Orrie, and secondly, an invoice made out to the Provincial Government could not simply be transferred to another agency"

51.9. After the exposure of the fact that Aranes and I were behind Inkwenkwezi, it did any receive any further work, whether from the Premier, the Provincial Government or any other party.

52. Whilst Inkwenkwezi was at the stage when it was conceptualised a company that Aranes and I viewed as a future business venture to do legitimate work, I concede that:

52.1. At the time when it was established Aranes and I were doing the work therein clandestinely, as we continued our work as journalists, and

52.2. By the time that the R100,000.00 invoice was represented to Rasool, we had already been compromised in our journalistic ethics, as we were consulting with Rasool on his media strategies in his battle with Skwatsha.

HIP HOP MEDIA

53. As stated before, I finally resigned from Independent in April 2006. Within 2 hours after the resignation, Aranes, Orrie and I attended a meeting held in the dining room at Leeuwenhof with Rasool.

54. The general discussion at the meeting was how Rasool was going to take care of me, in the light of my resignation from Independent. The meeting reached the conclusion that I would become employed by another company in the Orrie stable, that had an existing record and that I would be salaried in such company and have shares in such company. The company in question would be allocated work by the Provincial Government.

55. I started off in a company called Denment, a company owned by Orrie, but it was later decided that a Company called Hip Hop media would be used. Hip Hop media had an existing record of work done for Rasool.

56. Orrie, Aranes and I each acquired 18% shareholding in a company called Che la Vie, which held 54% of the company Hip Hop Media. The other shares in Hip Hop Media were held by Vukile Pokwana, George Hill, and Kashif Wicomb and his wife in various shareholdings. [I am not 100% certain of the 18% shareholding, but that is my recollection. It could have been 16% each.]

57. I received a salary from Hip Hop media, but eventually I decided to leave when I took up a position as media consultant for the former deputy mayor of Cape Town, Charlotte Williams.

58. In 2009 I joined the SABC as a reporter, but was dismissed in June 2009 after an altercation with Geoffrey Twala. The facts relating thereto are not relevant to this matter.

59. I do not wish to elaborate about the involvement of Hip Hop Media in this matter, as it relates to the period after my departure from Independent and I do not think it is relevant to the fact set out above, save for two aspects, namely:

59.1. The fact that my role in Hip Hop and possible tenders awarded to Hip Hop, was seen by Orrie, Rasool, Aranes and I as compensation for my previous role in assisting Rasool; and

59.2. Aranes continued to hold shares while he remained on at Independent.

CONCLUSION

60. 1 have prepared the above affidavit entirely from my memory and my therefore be wrong with certain dates and specific detail. I did the first affidavit solely with a view to provide the NPA with background, should they decide to investigate the matter further, and to "come clean" with my former employer. I also request to NPA to provide me with indemnity from prosecution for any crimes I may have committed arising out of the relationship I had with Rasool, Orrie and Aranes, while being a journalist and the consequences flowing therefrom.

61. Save for the possible indemnity from prosecution and the unburdening of my soul, I have nothing to gain from making this affidavit. I suspect that the truth of my actions confessed herein may harm my future attempts to gain employment, particularly in the media field.

62. My conclusion based on the above facts is that:

62.1. I assisted Rasool in media strategies while I was employed as a journalist with Independent Newspapers;

62.2. At the time when I assisted Rasool, it was clearly understood by Rasool, Orrie and Aranes, that my role as an employed and practising journalist would be valuable to the cause of assisting Rasool;

62.3. The other parties who had knowledge of the matter at the time were Leonard Ramakatlane and Marius Fransman;

62.4. It was always understood by those involved that I would receive compensation, probably through tender work and probably through lnwkenkwezi;

62.5. The assistance I gave to Rasool and his allies did not relate to mailers of interest to the Provincial Government, but to Rasool's political survival in the ANC;

62.6. Most of the work I did for Rasool was in relation to his strategy against Skwatsha.

62.7. After I left Independent it was understood that I would be "looked after' by joining Hip Hop Media and that tenders would be awarded, in part at least, for my compensation.

63. Lastly, I would like to ad that, as far as my knowledge go, I do not know of any other journalists, other that Aranes and I, who were part of any scheme as contained in this affidavit. While I was involved, I am certain that no other journalist at Independent Newspapers was involved in getting paid, directly or indirectly, for services to Rassool, his allies or any other politician. I also participated in the scheme without knowledge of my editors.

When questioned about my involvement in lnwkenkwezi, during the disciplinary investigation, I denied my involvement.

ASHLEY SMITH
June 28 2010

Source: http://www.mg.co.za/smithaffidavit. Note: Transcribed from PDF, so there may be errors in the text.

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