Lawsuits have not been heard
THERE is a vast difference between threats to do something or milder statements of intent to do so, and actually giving effect to these declarations. We recently had a reminder and illustration of this observation: October 29 was the first anniversary of the publication of an explosive book, The President’s Keepers, by investigative journalist Jacques Pauw.
It amounted to a detailed, seemingly never-ending indictment of skulduggery in the Zuma years, naming alleged state capture culprits and vividly describing things done.
Pauw’s catalogue of wrongdoing offered multiple grounds for numerous damages claims from the named individuals – if it was inaccurate in any way. And there were such mumblings. Yet, a year later, we have heard little of lawsuits.
Other actions against him by the state have so far also come to nought. The absence of personal lawsuits probably speaks to the veracity of his book, or the sobering realisation among his aggrieved subjects that they might themselves have to appear in court and undergo cross-examination in litigation.
Had Pauw disclosed all he knew? Could he produce more dirt against them in court? Could he hold up conclusive documents? Exactly how much did he know? Most would-be litigants have to confront the uncomfortable prospect of crossexamination in court. It may prove decisive in their considerations.
Such thoughts may have struck the more than 50 people provisionally indicted in an astonishing report on the plunder of VBS Mutual Bank, titled “The Great Bank Heist”. The title, reminiscent of former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s catchy names for her reports, succinctly described what its author, advocate Terry Motau, was to relate. His report ignited several angry expressions of intent against him, and cries of injustice.
The courts will decide – if those threats come to anything. If Motau erred in any of his findings, or the way he went about his investigation and report, he should be called to account and the indicted person should be declared innocent, just as loudly. But talking recourse, and protesting blamelessness in the news media, is no exoneration. Merely playing to the court of public opinion, what might amount to bluff, is no absolution.