MISDIRECTED POISON ARROW: THE CASE AGAINST YUNIS SHAIK – RESPONSE FROM MR COPELYN

The Editor

Business Live

bdoe@businesslive.co.za

Dear Sir/Madam

Yesterday you published a piece under the heading “Shabir Shaik’s brother appointed to the board of eTV’s listed holding company, e Media”. This is intended as a replying letter to the editor:

Regards

Johnny Copelyn

HCI

Misdirected poison arrow: The case against Yunis Shaik

I appreciate we all have a sacred duty to preserve freedom of the media in South Africa. It is one of the few rights flowing from democracy that has helped us understand our failings as a country.

HCI as an investment company of SACTWU has been at the forefront of carrying that burden for the last twenty years. We have made our mistakes but without question we correct them quickly if it taints our mission to present news that is a truthful balanced critique of South Africa.

Yunis has been part of the team that has done this for a great many years. In truth he was at the barricades as part of SACTWU from the 1980s and has never shirked his responsibilities a single day.

It is true he is burdened by a multiplicity of crimes attached to the name Shaik. Probably the worst is that he stood at his brother’s side  through the crescendo of that brother’s ignominious corruption conviction.

Perhaps he should have stepped aside and distanced himself from that brother as he fell. All I can say is HCI has no such requirements for its officers. All we require is that they don’t commit crimes themselves.

As publicly humiliating as such issues may have been, Yunis was not the accused. Nor has there ever been the slightest innuendo that perhaps he should have been.

The Business Live article focuses on the acrimony of the fall out between me and Marcel Golding, my long standing partner of two decades. Somehow it suggests that this was in some way connected to Yunis compromising the independence of eNews.

This is a complete fabrication.

Yunis’s only role was to pass on a message that the state felt eNews was reneging on a commercial contract made with it by eMedia, to cover infrastructural developments initiated by the state. Neither he nor I were involved in making the contract nor had we ever seen its terms.

It may be that entering such a contract was the wrong thing to have done. eMedia retained a final independent editorial control over the content but it did agree to cover such matters as part of a commercial agreement with the state. We have certainly never ventured near such areas again.

Nevertheless trying to lay the blame for such a mistake, if that is what it was, at the feet of Yunis because he is a Shaik is disingenuous.

Yunis issuing a warning that the contracting party was upset at eMedia allegedly reneging on its undertakings, and pointing out this had implications for the whole HCI group, in no way makes him responsible for having  made such undertakings in the first place.

Marcel had a stellar career in HCI over a long period. We parted in a terribly painful way for us both. It is awful to be dragged back into that space by this Business Live article but it is unavoidable to say at least that this poison arrow is entirely misdirected, as laudable as the objective may be.

John Copelyn

HCI CEO