SSA threats leave Pauw un­fazed

CityPress - - News -

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 SA 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”.

“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 SA Rev­enue Ser­vice (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 R1 mil­lion 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 to­mor­row 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. I’m sure there’s pres­sure high up. This is quite em­bar­rass­ing for gov­ern­ment.”

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 pub­lisher’s an­noy­ance. Pauw urged read­ers not 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. 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.

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