Maharaj to meet with lawyer

2011-11-28 12:17
Johannesburg - Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj and his lawyer are still to discuss the City Press's republication of portions of a closed interview with the Scorpions in 2003.

"I haven't had time to consult Mr Maharaj, [it will be] either late this afternoon [Monday] or early tomorrow [Tuesday]," Maharaj's attorney, Rudi Krause, said on Monday morning.

After that they will decide on a course of action.

The interview the City Press reported on was about payments to Maharaj and his wife via convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik.

Maharaj, spokesperson for President Jacob Zuma, has also referred all queries on this matter to Krause.

Criminal charge

On Sunday City Press questioned why Maharaj chose to lay a charge against Mail & Guardian (M&G) editor Nic Dawes and investigative journalists Stefaans Brummer and Sam Sole, for obtaining a transcript of an interview he and his wife Zarina had with the Scorpions, the now defunct investigative arm of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

The M&G wanted to report on November 18 that Maharaj allegedly lied during an interview with the Scorpions in 2003, over the payments and wanted to base the report on a transcript of the interview.

But Maharaj threatened to prosecute them in terms of Section 41(6) of the National Prosecuting Authority Act of 1998, which makes it an offence to disclose information gleaned during that particular inquiry without the permission of the national director of public prosecutions.

City Press reported Krause as saying: "I can give you the assurance that should you even republish the 2007 article, we will lay a criminal charge against you and the newspaper...

"Should you publish now, it will serve to confirm that you or the newspaper are still in the unlawful possession of the documentation."

On Saturday November 19, Maharaj laid a charge at the Parkview police station in Johannesburg based on the alleged unlawful obtaining of the documents.

The interviews were reportedly conducted during an interview with the Scorpions in terms of Section 28 of the NPA Act.

This interview grants the subject immunity from prosecution for implicating themselves, provided they tell the truth.

Money transfers

The City Press on Sunday said it could not understand why Maharaj did not lay similar charges against the paper when it originally published the information in question.

The reports so far say that money was transferred to accounts associated with Maharaj and his wife Zarina and that the transfers were around the time of milestones being reached in certain contracts being negotiated in the transport department when Maharaj was transport minister.

Bidders included French arms and technology company Thomson CSF, now Thales, and a company of President Jacob Zuma's former financial adviser, Shaik, and the accounts the payments to the Maharajs came from had links with Shaik's company accounts.

Shaik is on medical parole after being sentenced for corruption and fraud relating to an arms supply agreement between the government and Thales.

Last week at the National Press Club, Maharaj said: "I have not been involved in corruption, bribery or broken any law."

He took issue with the amount of time the M&G gave him to respond to the paper's questions, and suggested there was an ulterior motive to "renewed" investigations.

"Given that at the National Press Club I refused to speculate about the 'coincidence' of the renewed investigations relating to my wife and I by certain newspapers over the last two months, and given the sudden outpouring of articles and reports calling on me to resign my job and/or for President Zuma to dismiss me, and in the light of your first question, it now appears to me that the real target of this 'renewed' interest is not Mac Maharaj but President Zuma and his administration."

A spokesperson for the Hawks, who are investigating the case Maharaj opened, was not immediately available to comment.

The M&G has written to the NPA asking for permission to use the transcripts.


- SAPA
Read more on:    mail and guardian  |  anc  |  city press  |  mac maharaj  |  corruption  |  media
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