Johannesburg – After being inundated with offers from the public, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) says it has resolved to establish a legal defence fund for The President's Keepers author Jacques Pauw.
"The fund – which is to be administered by MMA – is a non-profit donation platform set up to receive public, anonymous donations for fees and expenses relating to criminal or civil legal action against Pauw in respect of The President's Keepers," MMA said in a statement on Monday.
Since the release of the book by NB Publishers in October 2017, Pauw has been under fire from parties featured in the book, including the State Security Agency and KwaZulu-Natal police.
The latest legal action came from the South African Revenue Service (SARS) which said he had contravened privacy laws.
SARS commissioner Tom Moyane argued in his affidavit in the Western Cape High Court that Pauw revealed in his book taxpayers' information, which was in contravention of the Tax Administration Act.
Moyane also asked that Pauw pay the costs of the court action should he oppose SARS' application.
There have also been threats of civil suits against Pauw and NB Publishers.
"Through attorney Willem de Klerk and with senior counsel, NB Publishers and Pauw have co-operated with the authorities but have also made it clear that they stand by the book, and are prepared to defend it," Media Monitoring Africa said.
Fund to 'ensure and secure media freedom'
It added that Pauw, who exposed the apartheid-era Vlakplaas death squad, was one of the country's "most experienced and respected investigative journalists".
"The news late last year that a KwaZulu-Natal police officer and magistrate are to be investigated for possible misconduct after warrants of arrest were issued for Pauw and The Republic of Gupta author Pieter-Louis Myburgh is a vindication of investigative journalists in South Africa."
NB Publishers said it believes that by bringing the application, SARS has "conceded the truth of the parts in the book it names in the application".
After the book was launched in October, the State Security Agency sent two cease and desist letters to the publishers to get the book withdrawn from the shelves.
The book is currently still being distributed.
Media Monitoring Africa added: "When it is clear that the fund is no longer necessary, any remaining money will be used to help the legal defence of individuals and organisations whose right to freedom of expression is infringed upon due to legal action being taken against them or to develop policies that promote, ensure and secure media freedom."
Legal Defence Fund Bank Account details:
Bank Details: Investec
Account Number: 50013022040
Account Holder: Media Monitoring Africa
Branch Code: 580105
For more information on how to donate please visit: http://www.mediamonitoringafrica.org