What goes around has the nasty habit of coming around. A number of scurrilous allegations were made against veteran journalist Anton Harber last week. According to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, he was an agent of the security forces and part of a "Stratcom" plan to sink her career.
Even after her death Madikizela-Mandela had the last word against journalists who dared to expose her nefarious activities in the turbulent 1980s and 1990s. Harber and some of his courageous colleagues at the Rand Daily Mail and Weekly Mail are her most prominent targets in a video clip that surfaced last week.
Harber denies the claims, and thus far there has not been a single shred of evidence to indicate that he reported to handlers in the apartheid security forces. However, there is more than a bit of cruel irony in the saga.
Harber was among the most prominent journalists who went out of their way to besmirch the name of former Sunday Times editor Tertius Myburgh. Several claims were made after he passed away that Myburgh was an alleged "spy in the newsroom". No proof has yet been offered – except inferences that Myburgh spiked some badly researched stories written by Harber and some of his colleagues.
There is one major difference between the two situations. Myburgh did not have friends in high media places to remove offending clips from websites, such as Huffington Post did after Harber started to huff and puff. I do not believe the allegations against Harber. But it was fascinating to see him squirm on the TV screen when his own tactics came back to bite him.