Sanef demands NPA release Maharaj record
Johannesburg - The SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) supports the Mail & Guardian's bid to get permission to publish information which purportedly proves allegations that presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj and his wife received kickbacks while he was transport minister.
"Sanef is concerned that the testimony by Maharaj, who as the spokesperson for President Jacob Zuma is at the heart of government, should be kept secret and joins the Mail and Guardian in requesting Menzi Simelane to release the record immediately," a statement received from Sanef on Monday said.
"Information about Maharaj’s testimony and conduct, given his high profile role in government and his former role as minister of transport, is of major public interest."
Sanef was also concerned that the newspaper's reporters Sam Sole and Stefaans Brummer could be arrested after Maharaj laid charges at the Parkview police station against them on Saturday for being in possession of a document which could prove the allegations.
Maharaj wants the police to establish whether the publication and reporters broke the provisions of section 41(6) of the National Prosecuting Act of 1998.
They also requested the police to investigate whether records of National Prosecuting Authority inquiries had been stolen.
The charges relate to Friday's edition of the newspaper which had a front and second page with black blocks covering information they could not publish.
The Act makes it an offence to disclose evidence gathered in camera by a section 28 inquiry - providing for a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail, reported the Mail & Guardian Online.
Mail & Guardian editor Nic Dawes said the charges would "not wash in any court", as Maharaj's instigation of legal action leaned heavily on the newspaper's possession - rather than disclosure - of the information.
"The act pertains to the disclosure of information, [the way the story was published] we did not disclose it," he said.
Maharaj is set to address the National Press Club in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Asked for a response to the DA's call that he be suspended he said: "It's a free country."
DA transport spokesperson Stuart Farrow said he had lodged a request with the public protector that her office investigate the matter further.
Further comment was not immediately available from the NPA and the M&G.