Friday, 10 April 2020

Pretoria: Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has taken legal action against radio and TV personality, Somizi Mhlongo, for allegedly misleading the public through a video recording circulating on social media.

In the video, Mhlongo can be heard saying that the Minister divulged information to him, which could be regarded as sensitive and embargoed for publication at the time.

Mbalula said after proper reflection, he found himself obligated by statutes, policies and regulations of Parliament and government to take action against Mhlongo.

Mbalula has reported the case to law enforcement authorities, as regulated and published under the Disaster Management Act on fake news and misinformation peddling.

“I have noted Mr Mhlongo’s apology. However, I do not view his utterances as a mere joke. The country is going through a serious disaster management period and any misinformation, irregular or unauthorised information being published is both unlawful and not assisting in our cause to manage public affairs carefully.

“Even though Mr Mhlongo guessed [the extension of the lockdown correctly] in his speculative discussion, he further mislead the public about the source of his information, which undermines and is pre-emptive of government and the President over very sensitive information of a national security calibre, of which I am very sensitive to, and have adhered to in all my time in the Executive.

“As I did not discuss the lockdown timeline or extension plans with Mr Mhlongo at all, my conscience is clear and I am prepared to attest to this under oath. Mr Mhlongo acted very recklessly and irresponsibly. Name dropping has caused enough harm in our discourse before and we must now nip it in the bud.” Mbalula said, adding that he has discussed the case with President Cyril Ramaphosa.