Assistant editor at Independent Newspapers Piet Rampedi tweeted on Sunday that the group stands by its story reported in its publication, the Sunday Independent, that the Gauteng department of health has paid Royal Bhaca Projects, the company owned by the husband of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko, Chief Madzikane II Diko, at least R80 million for personal protective equipment (PPE) through a front company, Ledia Structural Development.
This story, published on Sunday, 2 August, follows an initial report by the publication about a R125-million tender that was awarded to Royal Bhaca Projects.
Rampedi tweeted that the group does not intend to retract the story published on Sunday nor does it intend to apologise to the Dikos, after the couple’s legal representatives sent Independent Newspapers a letter of demand, in which the report is labelled as “false and untested allegations” deliberately “aimed at mobilising vicious public views against” the Dikos and “tarnishing their dignity”.
“The publication of the above-mentioned article is unlawful, and we hereby demand that you must, within 24 hours, unconditionally withdraw these unfounded allegations and publish an apology for making such allegations and in that apology you must unequivocally state that the allegations are false. Should you fail to do so, we are instructed to approach the high court and pursue our clients’ rights herein,” the letter reads, which Rampedi included in the tweet.
We stand by our story. We have no intention to retract and apologise. Mr Thandisizwe Diko and Mrs @KhuselaS are free to proceed with any legal action, if they so wish. And we are ready to prove our case. pic.twitter.com/QzpzSlOgbR
— Mr Putin (@pietrampedi) August 2, 2020
The PPE saga led to Khusela Diko taking a leave of absence, as well as the City of Johannesburg’s group corporate and shared services MMC Loyiso Masuku, the wife of Gauteng health MEC Bandile, who is also on leave due to the scandal.
(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)