R2K: M&G didn't break the law

2012-08-07 10:45

Johannesburg - The Mail&Guardian did not break the law by publishing parts of NPA transcripts, the Right To Know (R2K) group said on Monday.

"First, it is not clear how the M&G has broken the law. Section 41(6) of the NPA Act prevents disclosure of investigatory material, not its mere possession.

"The M&G did not publish the transcript, they blacked out the relevant sections... so they are not guilty of what Maharaj has accused them," R2K said in a statement.

The civil society organisation said the pursuit of the charges suggested "an attempt to isolate and intimidate critics of the presidential spokesperson".

M&G in violation of NPA Act - Maharaj

The president's spokesperson Mac Maharaj insisted last Friday that the M&G broke the law by running an article on his testimony in an arms deal probe.

It did so by trying to publish records of an inquiry into allegations that he received kickbacks from French arms manufacturer Thales, he said.

"The M&G is in violation of the National Prosecuting Authority Act," Maharaj said.

This was why he decided to proceed with charges against the newspaper and two of its investigative reporters, Maharaj wrote in an opinion piece published by the M&G.

He contended that the newspaper transgressed Section 41(6) of the act in disclosing information gathered in the course of a confidential inquiry.

He said the newspaper could only have received the records unlawfully "in that they were stolen from where they were kept before they were handed to the M&G".

Editor, reporters questioned

The charges relate to an article the weekly ran in November last year with most of the wording, and sections of an accompanying editorial, blacked out.

Editor Nic Dawes said if printed in full, the story would have shown that Maharaj lied when questioned under oath by the now defunct Scorpions.

Dawes and reporters Sam Sole and Stefaans Brummer have been questioned by the NPA's specialised commercial crimes unit in Pretoria about the matter.

Maharaj has denied ever being involved in corruption and bribery.

R2K said Maharaj's concern about confidentiality was "highly selective".

Broader issue

It contended that the transcript which formed the basis of the charges against the M&G was already in the public domain.

"Maharaj himself handed the transcript to his biographer, and it has been published by the City Press."

The organisation questioned why there were no charges pursued against those in the NPA who had unlawfully leaked the information.

"The broader issue at stake is the right of any citizen expose unlawful conduct or wrongdoing, without which there can be no democratic accountability," it said.

  • White.Tiger.Diamond.Paw - 2012-08-07 11:06

    We have the right to know!

  • graham.dutoit.12 - 2012-08-07 11:27

    What is most surprising is that this rotten rogue is employed by government!

      peter.jeffrey.581 - 2012-08-07 12:28

      I like your use of sarcasm there, well played

  • bryan.culross - 2012-08-07 11:28

    Surely if he is so innocent he wud go to gr8 lengths to hav the info published ... I wud and I guess most other innocent ppl wud feel the same. Can you imagine a similar scenario involving Helen Zille ... she wud leave no stone unturned to get the info published.

  • winifred.watson.9 - 2012-08-07 13:15

    Motor mouth zuma's best buddy we all know why zuma picked you any why.

  • arthur.marks.754 - 2012-08-07 14:33

    @ white.tiger, unfortunately we will NEVER know.

  • bophelo.malapela - 2012-08-07 15:53

    R2K is talking nonsense what is the blacked out document they published? Did Maharaj not seek redress through the courts? When the court agreed with Maharaj did they not approach NDPP Simelane.

      ejanette.joubert - 2012-08-07 17:13

      ahem ... if it is blacked out, it is not published. This case of Mr M is him seeking redress. Question is, why only from M&G, and not also from the NDPP, who leaked it in the first place, from the biographer, who could aslo have leaked it, and from the City Press, who DID publish it?

  • bophelo.malapela - 2012-08-07 15:56

    Why are those who leaked not charged? That is a rhetorical question maybe if they were known they wud be charged and Nic Dawes will not reveal their identity

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