SSA threats leave Pauw unfazed

2017-11-05 06:00
Jacques Pauw's book, The President's Keepers.

Jacques Pauw's book, The President's Keepers.

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Investigative journalist Jacques Pauw has no sleepless nights over threats by the State Security Agency (SSA) to take him to court for his book, The President’s Keepers, which went on sale last weekend.

Pauw said yesterday he was neither nervous nor intimidated by the agency’s threats.

The South African Communist Party has weighed in on the matter, with its leader Solly Mapaila telling Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union delegates at its central executive committee meeting in Pretoria yesterday that citizens should support Pauw for “standing up to wrongdoing and to the abuse of our intelligence service”. 

He commended Pauw for his courage in writing the book, saying “it might have crossed the line they [the SSA] say it did, but I agree with the book. Go and find it. Go and get it before it is taken [off the shelves]; read it,” Mapaila said. 

On Friday, State Security Minister Bongani Bongo told eNCA there were “lots of inaccuracies” and “certain information in the book is classified”.

“Certain information in the book is info that private citizens, when they have it, they need to protect it because it’s information of the state [sic],” he said.

“Part of our mandate is that we protect the integrity of this country, the sovereignty of the country, and ... the national security and we have enacted legislation that every one of us as South Africans must adhere to.”

The SSA joined the South African Revenue Services (Sars) in threatening legal action against Pauw. Sars said it was concerned about the unlawful publication of taxpayers’ information.

In a letter dated Wednesday, SSA lawyers Kgoroeadira Mudau Inc wrote to Pauw, informing him of the agency’s intention to take him to court if the book was not withdrawn from circulation.

The book exposes President Jacob Zuma’s tax woes. Pauw alleges Zuma earned R1m a month from a security company after becoming president and hadn’t filed his tax returns in years. The book includes interviews with former SSA member Paul Engelke.

Pauw said he would inform the SSA of his position on Monday afternoon. He did not think any SSA court application would succeed.

“I doubt that they will be granted an urgent interdict because the book has already been published. They have to prove the urgency in court. I don’t think that they will go ahead with the legal action. I think they just want to be seen to be doing something,” he said.

“I’m sure there’s pressure high up. This is quite embarrassing for government.”

Flying off the shelves

Yesterday, SSA spokesperson Brian Dube said they had not received a response from Pauw. He declined to comment on perceptions that the SSA was acting to protect Zuma. He said their demand was based on alleged contraventions of the Intelligence Services Act.

Pauw said more copies of the book would be printed in the next two weeks.

There was an initial print run of 20 000 copies and a second run of 10 000 had been ordered. Copies were flying off the shelves this week.

However, an electronic copy of the book was circulating on WhatsApp late this week, much to the publishers’ annoyance.

Pauw urged readers not to panic or to download copies online, because the book had not yet been banned.

A statement released by NB Publishers yesterday confirmed that “pirated, hacked” copies of the book were being shared online.

“As NB Publishers ... we understand that many South Africans are doing this innocently, believing it to be a protest against the State Security Agency’s attempt to have the book withdrawn. We assure the public the book is not banned and we are printing more to meet the overwhelming demand and working to get them to the shops as soon as possible,” the statement said.

“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.”

Publisher Gill Moodie said they would respond to the SSA and get audited figures of the book’s sales next week.

Read more on:    jacques pauw  |  jacob zuma  |  ssa

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