Apology, cash for Skwatsha over report

Cape Town - Rural Development and Land Reform Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha says he feels "partly vindicated" by an apology from news site Bizcommunity and a R37 500 cash payment for damage to his reputation.

Speaking to journalists in his parliamentary office in Cape Town on Sunday afternoon, he said he would use the money from the out-of-court settlement to cover his legal costs.

On 19 May this year, Bizcommunity published a report - headlined "A Slice for the Elite: Cape Town's 2005 Media War" - in which journalist Ed Herbst alleged Skwatsha had used the SA Broadcasting Corporation to fight political battles within the ANC for personal gain.

The article also alleged Skwatsha was the "handler" of Herbst's then boss, SABC regional manager Mzukisi Twala.

Skwatsha said Herbst had now admitted "that his assertions are without foundation".

On Thursday last week, Bizcommunity retracted the allegations made in the article.

"Bizcommunity and Ed Herbst retract the allegations made in the article which are unsubstantiated, and collectively unconditionally apologise for any harm caused to Mr Mcebisi Skwatsha by the publication of the article," it said on its website at the time.

Bizcommunity said the article had been removed from its website.

Skwatsha said he was satisfied by the settlement.

"But, of course, the malicious damage has been done, The admitted lie published. Over and over and over again.

"I feel personally partly vindicated at least by the apology received from Bizcommunity and Herbst with regard to the specific article authored and published on 19 May."

He appealed to journalists to "judge me by my actions... without constantly dragging me back to the negativity of the past, of which I was a victim".