The media jumped on the extreme revelations and accusations made by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in their press release on Monday. Just one day later, however, the Department was involved in some back pedaling as they engaged with the press at their own press conference.
When questioned on the matter, Sipho Ntombela, acting deputy-director for the department would not be drawn, but would only say that the preliminary investigation only provided indications that there was ‘something wrong’ with the R1.6 billion tender to manage South Africa’s marine research and patrol ships. A far cry from what was revealed during the press conference.
Clare Gomes, spokeswoman for Smit Amandla Marine is quoted in the media saying that Smit was ‘astounded by the substantially revised press statement, which materially waters down the allegations.’ She also stated that Smit is ‘seeking legal recourse and a formal process to defend Smit Amandla Marine and to clear our name.’
It looks like DAFF has jumped the gun on this one. Surely when dealing with allegations as serious and potentially damaging as these, there should be a more definite protocol to follow; including waiting for all investigations to be finalised and informing all parties concerned of these findings. But then DAFF really is not known for following protocol.
One thing is for sure – this story is far from over. Possibly the most holistic version of this disastrous tale in the media thus far was the article published by Noseweek – and certainly one can be sure that there is more going on behind the scenes than we are lead to believe.