Jooste Clarifies Photo Deal

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By Chrispin Inambao WINDHOEK Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Leon Jooste says he brokered the US$125 000 paid to the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) for selling exclusive footage of the Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt couple in his personal capacity and not as a minister. Speaking from Cape Town where he was attending a conference, the deputy minister said the US$62 500 (N$450 137.50) paid to Michelle McLean Children’s Fund is not solely earmarked for that charity but would benefit other local humanitarian organizations. He said the money was in fact paid for exclusive footage of the celebrity couple sold by NBC to Associated Press through a South African agency, as the couple explicitly did not want the footage to be sold to an overseas source. Some managers at the NBC are apparently up in arms in resentment of the fact that the US$125 000 was split on a 50/50 basis with the charity that Jooste says is not the sole beneficiary. “This was done in my personal capacity as this is not even the mandate of my ministry. I even informed the Minister of Information and Broadcasting (Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah),” he said, adding that the deal had the blessing of the “Tomb Raiders” and “Mr And Mrs Smith” superstar who insisted it should benefit local charities. Jooste said the Michelle McLean Children’s Trust would facilitate payment to at least two charities. He said the Michelle McLean Children’s Trust was instructed that it should submit quarterly reports to the couple on how the money is going to be spent to ensure it is not misappropriated. The charity was selected because it also facilitated the other donation running into hundreds of thousands of dollars made to a coastal hospital. Before selling the exclusive beachside footage of the glamorous couple the NBC reportedly shopped around before it eventually found the South African photo agency. “It is incorrect to assume the money is going to stay with the Michelle McLean Children’s Trust. They (the trust) will report to them on a quarterly basis on how the money is going to be spent,” said the deputy minister, who added the NBC might jeopardize similar future donations because of the conduct of its managers. “There is a misunderstanding about this money. They are only channelling the money through the Michelle McLean Children’s Trust. It is going to their account but it will not end there. Even the donation on the medical equipment is being handled by them,” he said. When he was asked about who the beneficiary charities are, he responded the Michelle McLean Children’s Trust would decide whom and how much they should receive. Associated Press deposited the money into NBC’s Nedbank account on June 07, 2006 after the broadcaster distributed the exclusive footage recently. Bob Kandetu, the Director-General at the NBC has also downplayed the controversy, saying the agreement was only executed after the public broadcaster sought permission from Jolie, who was pregnant at the time, through Jooste, who was a frequent visitor to a resort where the movie stars were in seclusion. The NBC boss said he would have liked to keep the whole amount but after he tried to negotiate for a bigger percentage of the N$900 275 and was reminded of the agreement, he eventually transferred the N$450 137 to the children’s trust four days ago.

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