RIGHT OF REPLY
General Feroz Khan responds to ‘Millionaire top cop at centre of feud between police minister and national commissioner’ article
On 10 September attorney Ian Levitt, on behalf of Major-General Feroz Khan, SAPS head of counter and security intelligence, penned the following letter to the Daily Maverick. We print it here in full.
Please see our companion editorial here.
Major-General Feroz Khan is our client. He has instructed us to address this correspondence to the Daily Maverick.
We refer to the article written by Ms Marianne Thamm and published by Daily Maverick on 20 August 2021 headed “Millionaire top cop at centre of feud between police minister and national commissioner.”
We view the heading to be unfair, misleading and contrary to the Press Code. The article purports to be about a feud between the minister and the National Commissioner of Police, and the notion that our client is embroiled therein.
The illustrative image to the article displays the minister and the Police Commissioner, the SAPS logo in the background and inexplicably, someone holding a large sum of R100 notes.
We do not believe that there is a legitimate or justifiable reason to have included the banknotes as part of the illustrative image. This inclusion unfairly suggests that there is some kind of corruption (involving a cash payment) concerning the feud between the minister and the National Commissioner, and that our client, the so-called “Millionaire top cop” is somehow involved.
However, when reading the article, there is no pointed allegation of corruption by our client or any other member of the SAPS.
Turning specifically to the heading of the article where our client is referred to as the “Millionaire top cop”, our client’s financial standing is not only irrelevant to the conflict between the minister and the National Commissioner, but irrelevant in general.
An unfortunate and adverse inference may be drawn against our client from the illustrative image and the term “millionaire” in the circumstances where there is no factual basis for this.
The article states that: “Daily Maverick’s attempt to obtain comment from Khan via a WhatsApp to a number registered to him was unsuccessful.”
In this regard, the WhatsApp message was received by our client at 17:38 on 19 August 2021.
The article was published on 20 August 2021, giving our client limited time to respond. No time limit of any kind was included in the WhatsApp. The suggestion in the circumstances that the author’s attempt to obtain comment was unsuccessful is most unfortunate.
Most notably, the WhatsApp from the author does not deal with allegations of corruption or malfeasance, particularly of the sort depicted in the illustrative image.
The only question asked of our client was whether he had any comment on the minister’s view that our client’s “appointment was not legal and was irregular”.
The request for comment appears to have lacked substance and appears to have been a “tick box” approach.
The article states that certain questions from Brigadier Mashadi Selepe were sought, presumably by the author of the piece. Our client has not seen the questions posed to Brigadier Selepe and does not know when they were sent.
We request that Daily Maverick publish this letter in full, which would be fair to our client.
Lt General Hadebe, the Provincial Commissioner, Limpopo Province handed down a ruling on 16 August 2021 concerning an enquiry into the alleged improper use of delegated powers by our client wherein the following finding was made: “No disciplinary steps be taken against Maj Gen Khan as any attempt to do so will not see the light of possible conviction under the circumstances.”
Lt General Hadebe also found that:
“It is my view that Maj Gen Khan was acting in good faith without malice intent focusing in ensuring that the administration of the Division CI is managed efficiently and effective so as to prevent any maladministration taking into account the prevailing situation at the time he was entrusted with the responsibility of an overseer. I therefore conclude that such commitment deserves to be applauded as compared to be negatively judged, not unless the contrary is proven.”
We wish to record that our client has fully disclosed all business interest and is not involved in the feud between the minister and the Police Commissioner at all, let alone from a financial perspective.
We also wish to draw your attention to the Protection of Personal Information Act (“the Act”) which seeks to protect and regulate the processing of personal information, falling into the broader constitutional right to privacy.
While this must be carefully balanced with the right to freedom of expression, we encourage you to familiarise yourself with the current dispensation insofar as disseminating information obtained from the CIPC is concerned.
In short, we view your article, and preceding steps taken prior to publication as unbalanced and wanting. We ask that you approach stories of this nature in a more balanced manner in fairness, and in ensuring that accurate information is provided to the public.
Our client has nothing to hide, but we ask that you strictly abide to the code that dictates your conduct in the future. We look forward to your response, which shall be expected by no later than close of business on Tuesday the 14th of September 2021.
Ian Levitt Attorneys
Ian Levitt DM