Johannesburg – Investigative journalist and author Jacques Pauw has distanced himself from sharing and circulating his new book on social media after the State Security Agency (SSA) demanded the book be withdrawn from stores.
The SSA sent a cease and desist letter to Pauw and his publisher - NB Publishers - over revelations in his book - titled The President's Keepers - which it claims are in violation of the Intelligence Services Act.
"It's definitely not me that's doing it. I won't do it because I don't believe the book will be banned. I don't think the State Security Agency has any chance of being successful with their court application so there’s no reason for me to do it," Pauw told News24 on Saturday.
The "hacked" version of the book went viral on social media on Saturday after a PDF copy surfaced on WhatsApp.
NB Publishers had on Friday said they had received the letter from the SSA, demanding that they withdraw the book from stores, as well as retract certain parts of the book.
The SSA threatened to go to court to get an interdict preventing NB Publishers from further distributing, printing, publishing or promoting the book should they refuse to withdraw it from book shops.
Pauw also distanced his publishers from circulating the book on social media.
"The copies that are floating around are from the e-book version. Somebody has obviously bought an e-book and has converted it into PDF. It's definitely not me, there’s no reason for me to do it," he said.
Asked whether he suspected anyone for the piracy of his book, Pauw said: "I don't have time to look for the culprit as I'm on deadline for Sunday Times. The publishers might be doing something about it. Well, I don't know what they'll gain by doing it. I believe that people are still going to go out and buy the book, personally I'm not that concerned."
NB Publishers have assured South Africans that the book has not been banned.
"We assure the public the book is not banned and we're printing more to meet the overwhelming demand and working to get them to the shops as soon as possible," the publishers said in a statement.
They said they were also fighting the attempt to have the book withdrawn.
The publishers warned that circulating the book on social media amounted to piracy.
"Piracy hurts this courageous author who has put everything on the line to ensure South Africa knows the truth this book tells. It also hurts the publishing industry and is illegal."
Pauw's book exposes how millions of rands of taxpayers' money were spent on bogus spies. It also exposes revelations about President Jacob Zuma's compromised government.
An extract of Pauw’s book, published on last weekend's Sunday Times, alleged that Zuma received monthly payments of R1m from controversial tender mogul Roy Moodley without declaring it to the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
On Friday morning, SARS said it was considering taking criminal and civil steps against Pauw and the Sunday Times because it was concerned about the publication of confidential taxpayer information in contravention of Chapter 6 of the Tax Administration Act (TAA).