Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News – 2013-06-19
It has been confirmed that controversial Daily Maverick Journalist and author of “Al-Qaeda: Alive and well in South Africa”De Wet Potgieter has resigned.
Speaking to Radio Islam, the editor of the Daily Maverick Branko Brkic said, “There will be further information regarding Potgieter on the Daily Mavericks website by midday today.
In an article titled “Apology to Farhad and Junaid Dockrat and our readers” The Daily Maverick said, “After an exhaustive internal process, we now can acknowledge that there were inaccuracies in relation to Farhad and Junaid Dockrat in the article and we wish to set the record straight.”
“We acknowledge that we are not in possession of evidence to show that Farhad Dockrat or Junaid Dockrat are linked to Al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organisation, or that Farhad Dockrat was seeking seclusion on Greylock, or in Tsitsikama, for the purposes of establishing terrorist training camps or that Farhad Dockrat and Junaid Dockrat were conducting any illegal activities,” read the article
“Our article suggested these links and also that there is a strong Al-Qaeeda presence in South Africa. We unequivocally and unconditionally apologise to Farhad and Junaid Dockrat and the Muslim community of South Africa and retract this allegation. We regret the inconvenience and distress it has caused to Farhad and Junaid Dockrat and the Dockrat family,” added The Daily Maverick.
In the interest of good and ethical investigative journalism The Daily Maverick has under the circumstances agreed to remove the article from their website.
De Wet Potgieter has also published an article on The Daily Maverick Website. Titled, “My world, turned upside down.” Potgieter explains how he came across the information, the intentions of his investigation and the consequences of it being published.
The investigative journalist said it was in 2011 a few months after the Soccer World Cup was held in South Africa when he met with a good friend of his. Over coffee it was disclosed that an intelligence agent, was furious that a top-secret operation on the activities of a group of suspected Muslim extremists had been abruptly called off.
“Having spent the last 35 years in investigative journalism, I recognised that this was a potentially important story that needed to be made public,” said Potgieter.
Potgieter claims the world of investigative journalism sometimes requires a reporter to immerse himself in the murky world of espionage, counter espionage and disinformation.
“In order to serve the public interest, journalists often have to sift through truths, half-truths and lies, relying on information given by people with their own agendas. While some of the people operating in the chimera of the spy world are heroes, others do not have the nation’s best interests at heart. Determining what is the truth, and not just half of the truth, is complicated and treacherous,” said Potgieter.
Potgieter adds that during the research for the story he was immersed in claims and counter-claims and believed he had managed to successfully extricate the truths from the disinformation. “I was under immense pressure from some of my sources to publish my findings, being led to believe that this would force the hand of the authorities to act on the evidence the operatives said they had provided,” Potgieter said.
The controversial author acknowledges that since the publication of the story, there has been no action from the authorities, and the promised second wave of evidence has not been delivered. “With a benefit of hindsight, should I have submitted the story at this stage of investigation? Definitely not. I was caught up in the twilight realm of a power play in the intelligence world, and I have paid the price,” said Potgieter.
“Could have the information I gathered so far, be the work of agents provocateurs as has been alleged in the current hearing within a hearing at the Boeremag trial in the Gauteng North High Court?” asked Potgieter.“Possibly. Could I have been manipulated by my sources for their own purposes? Again, quite conceivable, “added Potgieter.
Potgieter said that for the past month he had been the target of personal abuse and veiled death threats as a result of his story. He categorically stated that there was no malice in his intentions to investigate the matter. “I never had anything against any religion or race whatsoever. I am a practicing Christian and believe in the principle of live and let live,” said Potgieter.
Brkic also penned an article. He wrote “Sorry might be the hardest word but sometimes, it is also a necessary word. In order for Daily Maverick to continue to be a credible and feisty news and analysis platform, we need to acknowledge our mistakes. We do so now, and also commit to doing our best never to repeat them.”
“Nothing can hurt the editor more than having to issue an apology. After almost four years and close to 12,000 stories later, today it is my own turn to taste the most bitter medicine of all. Today, Daily Maverick has issued an apology and retracted the story titled “Al-Qaeda: Alive and well in South Africa,” said Brkic.
“Let me state clearly: I am personally responsible for this failure,” added Brkic.
Potgieter’s exposé: “Al-Qaeda: Alive and well in South Africa” in the Daily Maverick sparked a media frenzy, resulting in a plethora of criticism from the Muslim community, analysts and journalists.
On Radio Islam’s Global Debate on Wednesday (15 May 2013), Moulana Sulaimaan Ravat hosted Zahid Asmal, a representative of the Media Review Network (MRN) and Potgieter grilling the author by poking holes into his article revealing many discrepancies.
To read the full articles on The Daily Mavrick’s website, click on the links below.