On 7 August 2019 Corruption Watch addressed a letter to the minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development detailing an apparent abuse of the disciplinary processes within the department. In the letter we referred to a number of individuals who had been dismissed as the result of internal disciplinary processes following charges of financial mismanagement and corruption but had since returned to their position within the department. The purpose of the letter was to ascertain the circumstances in which these officials had been reinstated and as such we did not have – and could not have had – information relating to the specific circumstances of the individuals’ internal employment disciplinary procedures.

As we do with correspondence of this nature we published this letter on the Corruption Watch website and also wrote an opinion piece on the Daily Maverick, published on 20 August 2019 and titled Cleaning Up: Start with the Department of Agriculture and Land Reform, which included a link to the letter. The letter published on our website included statements relating to officials who had been reinstated following earlier dismissals.

Subsequent to the publication of the letter on our website we received information from four of the named officials – Steven Modise, Lubabalo Mbekeni, Tebogo Molefe and Babalwa Magoda – informing us that they had all been reinstated following rulings from the bargaining council overturning the internal disciplinary processes which had dismissed them. At the time of writing the letter we were not aware of – and could not have been aware of – these processes.

We have removed the letter from the Corruption Watch website on 13 September 2019, and the link from the Daily Maverick piece is no longer operational.

Corruption Watch wishes to apologise to Steven Modise, Lubabalo Mbekeni, Tebogo Molefe and Babalwa Magoda for any harm caused as a result of the publication of the letter and its accessibility on the Corruption Watch website between 7 August and 13 September 2019.

We have also written to the minister placing this on record in relation to these three individuals.