Makhudu Sefara's response to questions from Raymond Joseph

From: "Sefaram" <>
To: "Raymond Joseph" <>
Sent: Thursday, August 3, 2023 11:48:52 AM
Subject: Re: Request for comment


You are pathetic, Oom Ray! Sunday World’s junior reporter Boitumelo Kgobotlo wrote a story about you and now you are obsessed with it (SW). I suppose one could be childish and petty at your age, still. 

Your frustration is that you want to drag me in to this despite the fact that, by your admission, some of the things you need in order to put your story (such as it is) together happened after my departure. You have made no single claim against me. 

But do your worst, Oompie! The good thing about journalism is that it is public - so the journalism I practice is public and witnessed by many. So there’s no need to dignify your skirmish cravings with a comment. 


Makhudu Sefara
On 02 Aug 2023, at 12:52, Raymond Joseph <> wrote:




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Dear Makhudu
This is a request for comment. Please respond before noon (12 pm) on Thursday 3 August.
We are publishing an article this week that describes the advertising spend by the NLC vis-a-vis the Sunday World from 2019 to 2022. We have analysed the NLC's advertising expenditure. It paid Sunday World over R24m over three years, far in excess of any other publication, including many that have far bigger circulation than the Sunday World. This expenditure has been flagged by the Auditor General.
We have also analysed how with this increase in expenditure certain actions were taken by Sunday World and its reporters. This appears to have started when you took over as editor in 2019.
When GroundUp revealed how attorney Lesley Ramulifho had used Lottery funds meant for a drug rehabilitation centre to buy a luxury homeSunday World came to his defence, describing Ramulifho as a “top legal eagle” in this story by journalist Aubrey Mothombeni in November 2019, which trashed GroundUp’s reporting and repeated falsehoods spread by Ramulifho and the NLC. No right of reply was sought from us.
Boitumelo Kgobotlo sent me questions in October 2019 based on questions that I had sent to Ebrahim Patel’s former spokesperson, Sidwell Medupi. It's unclear how she got hold of these questions.

These questions asked why I was breaking the law when I wasn't and why I was trying to obtain grant beneficiary information from the NLC, which was my job as a journalist.


She also sent a series of questions in 2019 to Derek Carelse, the managing director of The Big Issue, a Cape Town-based non-profit job creation publication of which I was once an unpaid director, but resigned in 2016.

“The NLC seem to be suggesting that Mr Joseph is using the publishing platform [GroundUp] to settle his personal score against the NLC, as someone who was sulking after the NLC ceased funding your NGO in which he is a director,” Kgobotlo told Carelse.


Sunday World published a story presented as “news” - also by - Kgobotlo in February 2020. It was based on an African Transformation Movement statement defending former NLC COO Letwaba. Letwaba resigned shortly before he was to face a disciplinary inquiry on charges of abusing his position to enrich himself, his family and his cronies.
There was this puff piece one published in December 2020 showcasing the NLC’s approach to preventing conflicts of interest.
Sunday World published a story in July 2021 that appeared after GroundUp published a story about how law firm Ndobela Lamola Incorporated – which was associated with Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola – had bungled a disciplinary inquiry involving former NLC chief operating officer Phillemon Letwaba.

Much of Sunday World’s story, designated as “news” is a verbatim repeat of a joint media statement put out by Ndobela Lamola Inc and the NLC.

Both Sunday World’s story and the statement end with “All rights remain reserved”, an unusual ending to a news story.


Another example of Sunday World’s dodgy reporting involving the NLC is a story in May 2021 based on a poorly-written, forged statement riddled with grammatical errors, supposedly from South African Non-Profit Organisation Union (SANPOU) president Thapelo Ntlele.

Sunday World wrote: “In a leaked letter, the union states that some individuals from a popular news publication in the Western Cape had previously tried to bribe union members to ‘act’ against the NLC, but the union turned down the offer.” This was apparently a reference to GroundUp and false.

Ntlele, who has accused the NLC of corruption and unfairness, told GroundUp that the statement was a “forgery” and that Standard Bank account details for donations included in it were “fake”. “We bank with FNB,” he said.

He also sent GroundUp a series of questions posed to him by Sunday World reporter Bongani Mdakane. Several were about GroundUp including: “It is alleged that your organization is being used by GroundUp, a media organization based in Cape Town to fight its battles against the NLC, how true is this?” Another one asked: “Did GroundUp pay Sanpou to fight NLC?”

This was exactly the line that the NLC was pushing in order to deflect from GroundUp’s reporting on lottery corruption.


This was published in April 2021. It is clearly an NLC advertorial but not marked as one. Instead, it’s marked as news.
Some of the above happened after you left at the end of 2020, but appears to have been a continuation of either a policy or culture instilled while you were editor.
Please comment by 12 pm tomorrow.
Ray Joseph