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SABC's investigative unit subjected to office raids, questioning, while corporation continues to probe show leak

(MISA/IFEX) - The staff of the South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) investigative unit, Special Assignment, is being subjected to office raids and are being demanded to take lie detector tests. This happens as the public broadcaster continues its hunt for the person who leaked a programme on political satire it refused to air. In July 2009, the SABC's internal audit investigators arrived at the Special Assignment offices, confiscated the hard drives and called staff in for interviews. Special Assignment story editor Khadija Bradlow resigned after being informed that she would have to undergo a lie detector test to prove her innocence.

In late September, the staff received further e-mails from internal audit department questioning their loyalty to the SABC and allegedly suggesting they had links with other organizations. SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago told "Business Day" on 28 September that a probe has been launched into the missing programme footage. "At the end of the day no organization is going to let a breach of any form go unpunished. We cannot just let it go. We want action to be taken to ensure that it never happens again," he said.

The programme, which related to President Jacob Zuma and the Lady Justice cartoon by satirist Jonathan Shapiro (Zapiro), was leaked to the "Mail and Guardian" website when the SABC pulled the show moments before it was set to be broadcast in April. At that time the SABC said the programme was withdrawn because proper procedure was not followed , but questions were raised about whether the broadcaster came under political pressure to withdraw the show. After the programme was published on the "Mail and Guardian" website in April, the SABC launched an internal probe.

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