M&G editor and journos questioned

2012-07-26 17:50

Johannesburg - Mail & Guardian editor Nic Dawes and two of the newspaper's journalists were questioned at the specialised commercial crimes unit in Pretoria on Thursday.

"We were asked to attend what is called 'warning' interviews," Dawes said.

"This is a formal process, in terms of which you are informed of the charges brought against you and you are advised of your rights. You are also given the opportunity to make a statement or ask questions," he said.

Dawes said charges laid against himself, Sam Sole and Stefaans Brummer related to contravention of Section 41 (6) of the National Prosecuting Act of 1998.
It dealt with records collected by the NPA in the course of a confidential inquiry.

He said there was also a charge of theft of the records.

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj laid criminal charges against the Mail & Guardian in November last year. The case was handed over to the Hawks.
Maharaj has accused the newspaper as well as Sole and Brummer of violating the NPA Act.

Black blocks

The charges relate to a front page story in the newspaper which featured a picture of Maharaj, alongside the words: "Censored. We cannot bring you this story in full due to a threat of criminal prosecution."

Big black blocks were printed over about three-quarters of the page, where the story would have been published.

Maharaj contended the decision by the newspaper to black out parts of its report had created the impression that he had done something wrong.
He said the act made it an offence to disclose evidence gathered in camera by a Section 28 inquiry.

According to the newspaper, Maharaj had lied to the Section 28 inquiry called by the now disbanded Scorpions over allegations that he received kickbacks from French arms manufacturer Thales International.

It was this information, allegedly proving that Maharaj had lied, that the newspaper wanted to publish.

Maharaj has denied ever being involved in corruption and bribery.

Dawes said on Thursday the next step in terms of the investigation was that a decision would be made on whether to pursue prosecution.

Serious charge

"We will see how things unfold from here. Obviously our concern is [that] it is a very serious criminal charge, which carries a 15-year jail sentence," said Dawes.
"[This] is being used to prevent journalists from dealing with really important matters that are in the public interest."

There were similar provisions in the Protection of State Information Bill.

"This case makes it clear why we have concerns," he said.

Dawes said when the newspaper was originally informed that it would be an offence to publish the information it made a formal request to do so, but this was denied.

The Mail & Guardian had since launched a formal High Court application to have the decision reviewed.

"We believe some of the info[rmation] is in the public domain and in the public interest. That court application will continue to unfold," said Dawes.

  • sean.mkhize.1 - 2012-07-26 18:00

    If they have crossed the line, arrest them. No one is above the law!

      rbphiri - 2012-07-26 18:24

      It's their journalistic duty to bring people news without fear of political influence from government. This is why the government is fighting so hard for the implementation of the secrecy bill. South Africa is becoming a police state.

      tw2066 - 2012-07-26 19:00


      john.fourie.18 - 2012-07-26 19:01

      Except, apparently, Min. Maharaj?

      tw2066 - 2012-07-26 19:01

      Mac - is this the FREEDOM you are so keen on talking about? Well at least the likes of Sean who dont understand freedom will support you

  • frank.crane.180 - 2012-07-26 18:05

    I agree arrest Mac too

  • azande.futhi - 2012-07-26 18:06

    Ja nhe. Media thinks they run this country. Destroying people's image and lives by publishing incorrect information about them under pretext "its in the public interest" while pushing sales revenue and western agenda to distabilize this country. I do hope you are innocent otherwise face the music.

      patrick.saunders123 - 2012-07-26 18:15

      western agenda? Do you even have a clue? Typical anc toadie.

      Henk - 2012-07-26 18:15

      I agree, we have to start and follow a eastern agenda. High time we execute these corrupt politicians!

      John - 2012-07-26 18:30

      What was published that was not factual? Do you have the faintest clue? Old Mac has been dodging the bullet for years. When they get close to him then they are apartheid SPIES. He and his cronies are making sure to hide their deeds behind STATUTES of their own making. Afican culture? Try a sample of ROBOT GRABITALL MUGABES culture. His people seem to like our side of the border a lot more than their own. Eastern culture? Remove limbs or execute does have some merit. The crime rate is low.

      rbphiri - 2012-07-26 18:31

      @ azande.futhi you primitive homosapien, how did your midget cranium cavity manage to bend space and time in order for your stupidity to coexist in our era. Of course the arms deal saga was in the public interest and the media did not tarnish Maharaj's imagine, Maharaj managed to do that on his own...and worst of all his wife had her own arms deal piggy bank.

      devon.riley.52 - 2012-07-26 18:36

      Western agenda? Not the sharpest tool are you?

      alex.marshall.944023 - 2012-07-26 18:49

      Azande, i admire you loyalty as you stand by and support the Government in their hatred of all this "West". That you continue to cheer as they note the time on their Breitlings and drive off in their Mercs.

      tw2066 - 2012-07-26 19:02

      Mac - Footy can vote for your brand of freedumb too.

      bryan.culross - 2012-07-26 20:54

      So why doesn't Maharaj merely ask M&G to republish without the black boxes then we can see how innocent he is and how very, very bad M&G is. If I recall Maharaj's wife has business dealings with a large multi-corporate who pays money into an offshore banking a/c for her ... its amazing how many cadres hav such arrangements ... bit like the rest of us having a current bank a/c

  • Henk - 2012-07-26 18:14

    The cadres are getting aggressive now to hide their corrupt ways! It is hight time that we are told the truth about their dealings! Mac you are guilty in the way you are defending this! Poor ANC supporters.........

  • John - 2012-07-26 18:39

    Keep it up Mac promulgate and enact new STATUTES to bury whatever you have been up to. This is brilliance. Suppress those who find out and get them to SUBMIT. Government is the SERVANT of the people not its MASTER. Get you cANCer mentality into perspective. Government is to create an orderly peace so that the PEOPLE can flourish and prosper in the pursuit of their dreams.

  • John - 2012-07-26 18:40

    Keep it up Mac promulgate and enact new STATUTES to bury whatever you have been up to. This is brilliance. Suppress those who find out and get them to SUBMIT. Government is the SERVANT of the people not its MASTER. Get you cANCer mentality into perspective. Government is to create an orderly peace so that the PEOPLE can flourish and prosper in the pursuit of their dreams.

  • vickers.vermeulen - 2012-07-26 18:41

    Animal Farm here we come. Oink!

  • Vince.York - 2012-07-26 19:20

    The people of this 'new SA' voted to ensure this type of secrecy and threatening attitudes never reappeared, and NOW they are adamant they want to protect the very people currently in power positions from being exposed to all the shenanigans they are up to???????? What is wrong people?

      devon.riley.52 - 2012-07-26 19:30

      It's blissfull ignorance Vince.

  • Michael - 2012-07-26 19:35

    If they have broken the law, arrest them, most of them are anti-revolutionary. M

      Mark - 2012-07-26 22:18

      Michael, your mandibles are moving. Stop. Read Rphiri's excellent rebuttel of Azande.futhi's drivel.

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