Faku hasn’t responded to The Herald

ANC Nelson Mandela Bay regional chairman Nceba Faku has yet to accept an invitation to visit The Herald newspaper after reportedly chanting “Burn The Herald”, its executive news editor said today (May 25).

“We had invited him to visit our office and voice his concerns,” said Samantha Smith.

“He said it was a decision that needed to be made by the ANC. He would table the request with the regional executive committee.” Faku said he did not think that, “in principle”, there would be a problem with meeting the editor, but he needed to consult with the African National Congress, because “quite honestly, I don’t want to make it a personal issue”.

Earlier in the week, he wrote an open letter to The Herald’s editor Heather Robertson in which he denied inciting about 100 people at an election victory party last week.

He reportedly said: “Down with The Herald, down, down! Burn The Herald! Fire to The Herald! The Herald dictated that [DA leader Helen] Zille and [Cope’s Smuts] Ngonyama would stand here today and run the metro. The Herald was on the forefront of that … Pasop! The Herald, Pasop!” As he was talking, an ANC official approached The Herald’s reporter and said: “You had better hide your notebook because these people say they’ll burn The Herald.”

However, in his letter Faku wrote: “Burning down your building can never be on the cards…

“The skewed reporting of what I said could provoke individuals to commit arson, putting at risk the lives of innocent people, including municipal firemen and women who would no doubt be called to extinguish such a fire.

“I would not do or say anything which would compromise the discipline of my organisation as your paper falsely attributes.” Smith said the newspaper stood by its story.

Its journalist on the scene had made notes, and it had received the same information from independent sources on the scene.

“We’ve got notes… but we also had independent sources. We have at least five people who were there and heard it.” These included freelance photographers and a journalist from Independent Newspapers, said Smith.

On Wednesday, Faku said he stood by what he had said in the letter.

“My dear, I have written a letter and I am referring you to the letter,” he said.

Pressed to comment on the newspaper’s statement that it had several sources confirming its report, Faku said he was not “confirming” or “denying” anything.

He accused a Sapa journalist of not being honest about the reason for the telephonic interview, and when told that he was being offered an opportunity to give his side of the story, Faku ended the call.

On Tuesday, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said Faku should be given a chance to explain himself.

Mantashe said “nobody” in the party should incite the destruction of property, but pointed out that Faku had denied making the threats in his letter to the newspaper.

The Herald reported in April that an ANC forensic report in several municipal projects in Nelson Mandela Bay, dating back to 2003, recommended that Faku be charged with fraud.

The newspaper said it had been shown a copy of the Kabuso Forensic Report’s summary and the legal recommendations it made.

It alleged that Faku approved R2 million for the upgrading of The Willows holiday resort and conference centre without the council’s permission, and also accused him of being guilty of “fruitless and wasteful expenditure” to the tune of millions of rands.

The Herald is currently in the process of trying to get a court order for the report to be released.

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