Maharaj charges Mail & Guardian

2011-11-19 17:28

The Mail & Guardian (M&G) has accused President Jacob Zuma’s spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, of using state resources to track down the paper’s sources.

This comes after Maharaj yesterday brought criminal charges against the M&G and two of its journalists for “illegally” possessing state records.

On Friday, the M&G blacked out an article about Maharaj after he threatened the paper with criminal action. The article claims Maharaj lied to the Scorpions during a recorded interview related to corruption allegations.

Yesterday Maharaj released a statement saying he had brought charges against the M&G for allegedly contravening the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Act.

In terms of the act, nobody is allowed to disclose any document belonging to the NPA without prior permission from the national director of public prosecutions.

The act allows for a sentence of imprisonment not exceeding 15 years. Maharaj said he had requested the police “to investigate the possible theft of the records of various inquiries conducted by the NPA in terms of that act”.

M&G editor Nic Dawes hit back, saying there was “no basis in law or in fact for any charges against the M&G or its journalists”.

“This complaint is clearly a pretext to use the resources of the police to discover our sources and gather information about the state of our investigation into the arms deal and related matters,” Dawes said.

He added that the charges would “not wash in any court” because the M&G did not disclose information belonging to the NPA. It blocked out the contents of its story.

Ironically, Maharaj himself challenged the constitutionality of the same section of the NPA Act he now uses to protect the information he and his wife, Zarina, disclosed to the Scorpions in 2006.

City Press previously reported that they were questioned under oath about payments made by fraudster Schabir Shaik to Zarina.

The payments were made shortly before and after Shaik’s companies scored big from two multimillion-rand tenders issued by the transport department while Maharaj was transport minister.

Mac and Zarina Maharaj allegedly denied taking money from Shaik.

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