Maharaj yet to respond to City Press report

2011-11-28 10:56

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj and his lawyer are still to discuss the City Press’ 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 or early tomorrow,” Maharaj’s attorney, Rudi Krause, said this 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.

On Sunday City Press questioned why Maharaj chose to lay a charge against Mail & Guardian (M&G) editor Nic Dawes and investigative journalists Stefaans Brümmer 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.

City Press yesterday 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, 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 Maharaj’s 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, 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 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.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.