Mail & Guardian 'censored' - editor

2011-11-17 20:49

Johannesburg - The Mail & Guardian newspaper was expected to hit the streets on Friday with a big "Censored" headline over its front page story.

According to a tweet on social networking site Twitter, its editor, Nic Dawes, said: "Just learned that the NPA Act has sections as bad as #secrecybill. Your M&G will look butchered tomorrow. Blame Mac Maharaj."

Dawes also posted a link to a picture of the weekly's front page for Friday, saying in another tweet: "Sorry to give you a paper that looks like this. A glimpse of life under #secrecybill."

The front page features a picture of Maharaj, spokesperson for President Jacob Zuma, alongside the words in bold: "Censored. We cannot bring you this story in full due to a threat of criminal prosecution."

Another picture shows a story on its inside page, headlined, "A buried trail of lies".

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

Dawes said the weekly had "wanted to publish information from an NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] Section 28 interview with Mac Maharaj. Apparently it's illegal to do that...

"Just like the #secrecybill the NPA Act punishes disclosure of S28 records with up to 15 years, even if you aim to reveal serious wrongdoing," tweeted Dawes.

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 on Thursday evening.

"After sending questions to Maharaj on Wednesday this week, the M&G received a letter on Thursday from Maharaj's lawyers warning of a potential criminal prosecution if we published the story," Dawes said in a statement posted on the website.

"We believe that we have every right to publish the information which raises serious questions about the conduct of the man who speaks on behalf of the president.

"However, faced with threats of both civil and criminal action, we have been advised by our lawyers to withhold publication pending an application to the national director of public prosecutions for permission to disclose the relevant material.

"We hope that the director, Menzi Simelane, will demonstrate the government's professed commitment to transparency," said Dawes.

  • DerpyHooves - 2011-11-17 20:58

    I know how they feel... News24 keeps censoring my comments by deleting them :(

      Ampers - 2011-11-17 21:22

      I know someone in Brazil who would publish the info on their blog...

      jacojansevanrensburg - 2011-11-18 02:49

      I know the feeling bru..truth has become the new hate speech.

  • Peter - 2011-11-17 20:59

    Democracy? Only when it suits them....

  • nicn44 - 2011-11-17 21:00

    goodbye democracy and freedom of speech

  • John - 2011-11-17 21:01

    Was Mac Maharaj 1 of the 3 south african communists which went to Moscow before 1994, and were told that communist central control economies do not work? Mac Maharaj quoted numbers from the Soviet Propaganda Book, and the russians laughed and explained to him that all the numbers in the Book were FALSE? How can Mac Maharaj carry on as a communist and a member of the ANC = Association of National Criminals, Abortion Murder Genocide? The russians have dropped the National Democratic Revolution! The chinese have dropped the National Democratic Revolution! The indians have dropped the National Democratic Revolution! What is wrong with Mac Maharaj? Has he been brainwashed? Who were the other communists? Anybody remembers?

      Herman - 2011-11-17 22:04

      nope, he is just another anc supporter......dumb, blind, corrupt and useless

  • Mark - 2011-11-17 21:02

    Mac Maharaj; go play in the traffic on Eloff street with your mate Menzi Simelane. You are doing evil, which you will deny. Such is your arrogance, you will fail to recognise it.

  • Musa - 2011-11-17 21:20

    Bloody journalists are at it again. They will do anything to get their papers sold even if it means reporting on lies and gossips. Journalists are becoming a law unto themselves. Who is reporting about journalists? Who are the so called "reliable sources"? I am tired of biased reporting, I demand responsible journalism. Forward towards Protection of Information Act!

      antoinette.jordaan - 2011-11-17 21:37

      Perhaps you should read-up on thi Protection of Information Act. There's a reason people aren't happy with it. We've lived through this nonsense already.......and once in my life is enough, thank you very much.

      spookhuis - 2011-11-17 21:51

      What can I say when I read a comment like yours......bloody agent.

      Joseph - 2011-11-17 21:51

      You are "tired of biased reporting" and "demand responsible journalism". The only information that is going to be "protected" by the communist manifesto that is the PIA is information such as this that the M&G has. Info that will embarrass the ruling powers and expose their corrupt money-grabbing, self-serving, let the people eat cake attitudes. These criminals in cabinet are fearing that they will be shown up in the same light as the corrupt nats were when the entire world knew how they attempted to manipulate the media to thier own needs. The same way that Mugabe and his ZPF cronies attempt to hide their failings through the propaganda BS that comes out in the Zim press. The truth will out eventually. And the harder Mac/Juju/anyone else who has something to hide tries to prevent it, the bigger the news will become. If you are so dissatisfied with the quality of reporting on sites like this and in the journalism standards produced by the M&G (which imho is the most credible source of information in this country at present) then why do you bother reading them? You should stick to the press releases from the ANCYL and the ANC media releases on their website - that way you will only get to hear what you want to hear, and what better source of unbiased reporting could there be than those two sources? Forward towards Freedom of Information, the Right to Know, True Democracy & A Government Genuinely For the People. Viva M&G, Viva Truth, Viva!

      werner.smidt - 2011-11-17 21:54

      Crisis, that was a fail trolling attempt.

      Wally - 2011-11-17 22:56

      Do u actually read before commenting? There was a Section 28 Interview. Plz go and research that urself. The info is obtained from such interview. Any journo that tries to publish such info - if allowed that is - without verifying the contents would b prematurely ending his career. M&G wld hv done their homework, Boet. The reaction from ur cde says a lot! If there's nothing 2 hide, why hv att's threaten the newspaper...? Enough said.

      paul.duplessis - 2011-11-18 08:18

      Your name should have started with a "P"

  • leah.molatseli - 2011-11-17 21:22

    Pity such things still take place, we are turning into a banana republic..... We have a right to know so long as it does not somehow breach state security. Flip, just for that im definetly going to get the M&G

  • spookhuis - 2011-11-17 21:23

    "he was a member of the African National Congress' armed wing Umkhonto weSizwe." From who's who.....He doesn't know the ass end of a gun if it him in the face.

  • Huey - 2011-11-17 21:28

    How bad must it be that what is about to happen in the media is preferable to the truth coming out?

  • frank.hartry - 2011-11-17 21:31

    I well remember the censorship in the then Rhodesia [now Zimbabwe] for months after the ill fated UDI was declared in the second half of the 1960s. There were black banners where there was censorship. The government then made it an offence to blatantly show the banners depicting the censorship, We in South Africa will be absolutely foolish to allow this this government with its rampant corruption to pass the Information [Secrecy] Bill in its present form without the public interest clause. The ANC government knows that like the Mail and Guardian tomorrow, the media will be forced to apply self censorship omce the Bill is passed. This corrupt government knows that it is the media that has exposed its massive corruption for the last 12 years. The opposition parties being largely ineffective in exposing corruption of the ANC led government and has been even involved in some cases. We must shout our opposition to this disgraceful bill from the rooftops. We will rue the day if we allow it to happen. The looting will continue unabated if that happens.

      Win - 2011-11-17 22:07

      You are farting against thunder mister. Whatever the bills and laws that may or may not come, they'll carry on looting and fleecing us anyway. The fish starts stinking from the head. By now the head has rotted away already and we are used to the stink. The locusts have taken over and will not stop feeding as long as we create more food. It's their nature. Why they even bother with more laws beats me unless it's just to keep the coconuts busy with something.

      Grant - 2011-11-18 03:19

      I lived through the years of UDI in Southern Rhodesia, Rhodesia and Zimbabwe Rhodesia as the country was named over the years. Unilateral Declaration of Independance (UDI) was declared 11/11/65. I disagree that UDI was "ill fated". The country prospered from 1965 to 1980 when Mugabe took over. We endured world wide sanctions and yet in 1980 the currency was on a par with the Pound. As for censorship I also disagree. The Smith government issued a list of subjects that would have to be cleared before they could be published. The editor of the Rhodesia Herald (also named Smith) rebelled. He refused to submit anything for verification and instead had blank spaces (white, not black) on the paper. The joke went around that Van der Merwe said he loved the Herald as it had places for guys like him who couldn't read! The Smith government DID NOT "make it an offence to blatantly show the banners..." there were no banners. An agreement was reached between the paper and the government and there were no more white spaces.

      Kevin - 2011-11-18 07:27

      Frank you are quite correct and Grant is wrong. My parents were friends of Malcolm Smith the Herald editor. My Mother as an UFP MP who left parliament in 1965 was barred from appearing on TV after she left parliament. Censorship in UDI Rhodesia was draconian and futile. It will be so here, because "you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the peolple some of the time but you cant fool all of the peolple all of the time."

      Grant - 2011-11-18 11:31

      @Kevin. A bit late now I know as the news has passed on. I stick by every word I posted and challenge you to to refute any of the points I repied to.

  • Roberto - 2011-11-17 21:50

    Stick to your guns boys. Keep all the wrong under wraps. Let not the media show the world what we have done. Just what the opposition has done.

  • Shoe - 2011-11-17 21:55

    Maybe Juju's drive to replace Zuma, and thus Maharaj, with Montlante was not so far off the mark. Go Jujuuuu.

  • Kevin - 2011-11-17 22:09

    We are the government and when we do bad things it is not fair you tell our voters. We can do as we please and we have just made a law to make it legal . Heh Heh , this law thing ,so easy to bend to our way of stea er thinking

  • hannesw1 - 2011-11-17 22:16

    There are many ways to kill a cat M&G. The internet is not called www for nothing...If you're not allowed to publish it the British and USA media will do it for you. Press that "forward" key...

      Dominique - 2011-11-17 23:55

      Grant - 2011-11-18 04:20

      The majority of South Aficans do not have access to the internet. A lot cannot even afford a newspaper.

  • fredahsm - 2011-11-17 22:19

    Biased as usual, I dont believe the crap being said here. there is no way an interview can be conducted then be told it is unlawful to publish, you know the real reason......M&G you either hiding something or there is nothing to tell. if you think its worth published then wait for the outcome of your so called request from the national director of public prosecutions and stop messing around.....

      Stefan - 2011-11-17 22:48

      Are you just trolling or did you really miss the point?

      Wally - 2011-11-17 23:03

      Plz read and try understand the NPA Act as read with the CPA, I wld imagine. The interview was held and ur cde Maharaj is using the legal technicalities to prevent the truth being told. U know as well as I do that Simelane will in all probability NEVER afford M&G the opp to publish the info. Their only hope wld in all likelihood b another Crt action to get the truth told - positive or negative!

  • leerobbertse - 2011-11-17 22:20

    Send me the story, i will publish it on the web.

      DerpyHooves - 2011-11-17 23:18

      I hope you are hiding behind 7 proxies

      Heibrin - 2011-11-18 01:25

      Nope, he's probably not. You can send it to me as well, I'll also publish it. Foreign servers, no SA intervention. Simple.

  • jacojansevanrensburg - 2011-11-18 02:37

    Facebook, Twitter, Wikileaks...pick your platform. No longer will the truth be silenced. No longer will government cover ups be tolerated. Spread the word. The world is connected. You will only live under government censorship if YOU choose to. Screw you News24, you are no more than a mouthpiece of a failed communist state.

  • usernameinvalid - 2011-11-18 08:50

    time for more of us Saffas to start using TOR - it's one of the tools used by political dissidents in places like China, North Korea and UAE.

  • William - 2011-11-18 09:00

    And so the rot starts!!! One wonders what will be next!! Arrests without trial, phone tapping, goodbye to the once free and vibrant press in SA. How scary that the ANC is trying to quell the civil liberties that they battled for over the years!! SAD!!

  • arthurbrigg - 2011-11-18 10:10

    Leak it to me, I'll make it go viral :-)

  • Lauden Kirk - 2011-11-18 10:38

    Some thing is going to crack.

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