New allegations surface against Ranjeni Munusamy at state capture inquiry
Crime intelligence ‘facilitated’ new tyres, repairs, and a service for her car, Zondo commission hears
New allegations surfaced against senior Tiso Blackstar group journalist Ranjeni Munusamy at the state capture inquiry on Monday, with a former crime intelligence officer testifying how he facilitated repairs to her car.
He had the tyres replaced, serviced the car and fixed a faulty radio.
This is according to former crime intelligence officer Col Dhanajaya Naidoo, who said he met Munusamy “about two or three times” in 2008 to organise repairs to her car.
Naidoo, who is currently in witness protection, told the commission he was acting on former crime intelligence boss Mulangi Mphego’s instructions.
He was testifying about his knowledge of journalists who were working closely with crime intelligence at the time. He did not name the other two journalists in his testimony on Monday morning.
“The third instance I know of is a female journalist Ranjeni Munusamy. In this instance, I have more detail because I was personally involved.
“During 2008, I was called by Mphego to his office. He said he has this contact, her name is Jenny, and she is having problems with her vehicle and I must make contact with her and see how we can help her. I went to [former crime intelligence senior official Solomon Lazarus’s] office and explained what was required of me,” he said.
“I can’t recall if Lazarus explained to me who this person was but I can confirm it was indeed Munusamy who I met. I met her on two or three occasions. Lazarus told me I should take the vehicle to New World Motors. It is a service provider to Company X [a company used as a front for crime intelligence].”
He said he met Munusamy at an Engen garage not far from her house.
“She handed over the keys and I took the car to New World Motors. The tyres on that specific vehicle was replaced, it was serviced, the radio was faulty, and one of the seats on the car needed some attention,” he said.
Two weeks ago, the Zondo commission heard testimony by Hawks officer Col Kobus Roelofse, who claimed Munusamy’s car had been paid off with money from a crime intelligence slush fund in 2008.
Munusamy has denied the allegations.
Tiso Blackstar Group, which owns Business Day, has placed her on special leave to allow her time to deal with the allegations.
The company said in a statement that Munusamy had not been engaged by any of its titles or companies during the period covered by these allegations. She only joined Tiso Blackstar in 2017, from the Daily Maverick.
“The company was unaware of any investigation involving Munusamy. At the time she was engaged as an independent contractor.”
Tiso Blackstar said it had also launched an internal investigation.
“Tiso Blackstar Group notes the extremely serious allegations against journalist Ranjeni Munusamy disclosed by two witnesses before the Zondo commission of inquiry,” the statement said.
“We adhere to the doctrine of presumption of innocence until proven guilty and the principles of natural justice that include hearing both sides of the story. However, we have granted her special leave considering the gravity of these allegations.
“The company will make a final decision on this matter following the conclusion of its own internal investigations, taking into consideration the company’s interests, its policies and Munusamy’s rights.”
Two weeks ago, Munumsay denied Roelofse’s allegations that R143,621.78 was used from a slush fund to pay off her car.
“I deny the allegations made against me... They are baseless. I am working with my lawyers to draft a response to the allegations for the commission, with whom I am co-operating fully,” Munusamy, the group’s associate editor, said in a statement.