R2K: Drop charges against M&G

2012-07-27 18:00

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma must demand that charges against Mail & Guardian editor Nic Dawes and two journalists be dropped, a lobby group said on Friday.

"We... call on the president to demand an immediate withdrawal of charges... and to enlist an investigation into the claims made against his spokesperson Mr [Mac] Maharaj," the Right2Know (R2K) campaign said in a statement.

"The NPA Act must be amended with immediate effect to include a public interest defence to protect journalists against prosecution for revealing what ordinary South Africans have a right to know."

Dawes and journalists Sam Sole and Stefaans Brummer were questioned at the specialised commercial crimes unit in Pretoria on Thursday, during what was called a "warning" interview.

They were informed of charges brought against them and were advised of their rights.

Dawes said the charges laid against himself, Sole and 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.

Front page story

Presidential spokesperson Maharaj laid criminal charges against the Mail & Guardian in November last year. The case was handed over to the Hawks.

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".

Maharaj contended that the story had created the impression that he had done something wrong.

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.

R2K said it was concerning that the NPA act had no public interest defence clause.

"No case more crucially highlights the practical justification for the demand made across civil society and progressive organisations for a full public interest defence to protect whistle-blowers, researchers, community activists and journalists whose work is central to our right to know," it said.

  • Squeegee - 2012-07-27 18:10

    "Maharaj contended that the story had created the impression that he had done something wrong." Impression!? We KNOW you are a skelm.

  • ron.warwick.79 - 2012-07-27 18:19

    The main reason he hasn't had his squint corrected, is that then he would be limited to eyeing only 1 oppertunity at a time.

  • glenda.mackay.18 - 2012-07-27 18:34

    Maharaj, don't think that you are untouchable, many know more!

  • pieriewaaier.zooms - 2012-07-27 18:38

    But please help me here: On what grounds must the president (especially Zuma!!) now be requested to interfere with due legal process? No! Let the case go ahead and all the facts discovered for the public to see & judge.

  • Erna - 2012-07-27 18:46

    I know a good lawyer these guys can use - Wim Trengrove. He's a little busy showing up the NPA now but I don't think he'd mind doing the same to Mac.

  • Phelamanga - 2012-07-27 20:00

    Mac Maharaj was not involved. His name is synonymous with corruption!That's precisely why he is where he is. Anyway, the truth in commubabble is always in the favour of the communists, no matter how far from the truth it is. Just take a look at how the SACP purges the facts of the history of communism and paints a rosy picture that the NDR can work in South Africa, when it never worked anywhere else.

  • lincoln.nkosi - 2012-08-01 19:53

    Just like his friend, he avoids at all cost being charged. The Public Protector must act on this one. Maharaj and Zuma forget that we pay their salaries and we as the public are their employers. We want Maharaj to face the full might of the law and stop enriching himself like he is doing at the moment. We know that he is a pathetic liar of note, he had the audacity to say Bulelani Ngcuka was an apartheid spy sowing seeds of doubts and when the truth about him prevails he dilly dallies and goal shifting and he dares to charge a journalist. Paaaaathetic i tell you.

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