Western Cape police commissioner Mzwandile Petros denied yesterday that
Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya and a senior journalist on the
newspaper, Jocelyn Maker, were under suspicion in connection with the
theft of Health Minister Manto Tshabala-Msimang’s hospital records, write Anton Ferreira, Brendan Boyle and Borrie la Grange in The Times.

Petros called a news conference to say he had “no idea” where reports of the imminent arrest of the two journalists had come from.

He said: “When I read the newspaper on Sunday, I looked at the headline and thought: ‘Maybe it’s something that happened in another province’.”

Petros displayed the docket of statements on the case — initiated by the Cape Town MediClinic in August — and said: “I must say to you categorically that in this docket all the people mentioned in the media are not here.”

He said the investigation into the theft of the medical records was continuing and he could not rule out the possibility that the Sunday Times journalists might become suspects.

Petros declined to reveal any information from the docket, a lever-arch file containing several hundred pages.

But he confirmed that two police officers — Director JJ Brand, a detective, and a captain he did not name — had travelled to New Zealand in connection with the investigation. He refused to say if the extradition of anyone would be sought.

The commissioner denied reports that the police had tapped Makhanya’s phones: “ There is no way there was tapping of phones of any person.”

He said the docket would go to the director of public prosecutions, Rodney de Kock. “He’s going to decide who to charge.” But he would not say when the docket would be sent to De Kock.

The Sunday Times — which ran an exposé on Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang’s alcohol intake and reportedly abusive behaviour during her treatment in 2005 at the Cape Town Medi-Clinic — said at the weekend that the police intended to arrest Makhanya and Maker for being in possession of the minister’s medical records.

Petros said: “I don’t know where this thing comes from, that somebody from the Sunday Times is going to be arrested. As of today, October16, nobody from the Sunday Times is going to be arrested.’’ He added: “I don’t have warrants for these people.”

Click here to read the full story, posted on the Sunday Times website.