Sinister turn of events in word theft

Don Makatile

Don Makatile

There's a new twist in the plagiarism row that has plunged Mafube Publishing into a winter of disquiet.

The company CEO and publisher, Siphokazi Sowazi, now claims the whistle-blower, former editor-in-chief Vusi Mona, has threatened to kill her.

Sowazi says she's laid a charge with the Randburg police. Nonsense, says Mona, adding that the accusations are a ploy to shift the focus from Sowazi's word-for-word theft of copy she passed off as her own work.

Sowazi is accused of lifting copy for her Biz Tips columns from American writers David Cohen and Matt H Evans.

After several phone attempts to get Sowazi to comment, she wrote back, via e-mail: "Please be advised that Vusi Mona has just called me, threatening to come to our offices and shoot me. We have applied for an urgent protection order against him."

Pressed for comment on the plagiarism, she says her columns, which carried only her byline, were Mona's brainchild, not her work "hence his clear knowledge of the sources".

Mafube chairman Thami Mazwai followed suit with this e-mail: "The board of Mafube will discuss the allegations of plagiarism.

"I hope Sowazi learns from this painful experience and grows from it . W e are also concerned that our former editor-in-chief did not deal with the plagiarism and only alerts the public after his departure.

"Unfortunately the failure to deal with the issue during his tenure, and actually alerting the board, clouds the issue and it cannot be solely looked at in terms of only plagiarism, if there was."

But Sowetan has reliably learnt that Mazwai had begged to meet with Mona, after which meeting he was going to act against Sowazi.

Mafube's PR company also claims to have received threatening calls from Mona, which he denies.

In her letter to Sowazi, Jessica Wheeler of Kezi Communications says "we would strongly recommend you consult legal and, where necessary, police intervention to bring this matter under control".