17 November 2017

South Africa: Pauw Anticipates Second Wave of Action to Clamp Down On His Book

Photo: Supplied
Cover of The President's Keepers by Jacques Pauw (file photo).

Author and investigative journalist Jacques Pauw says that for about 10 days, some of those who have threatened legal action against him have been silent, but he thinks this is because they are coming up with new strategies on how next to confront him.

"They've been very quiet... (State Security Agency director general) Arthur Fraser is sitting back and trying to devise another strategy," he said, in reference to the State Security Agency's (SSA) attempts to have him retract certain parts of his book and the agency's threats of legal action against him.

Pauw said attempts to clamp down on his acclaimed book, The President's Keepers, at this stage were "laughable".

He was speaking on Friday as part of a panel on state capture in South Africa at the 10th Global Investigative Journalism Conference being held at Wits University. More than a thousand investigative reporters from around the world have gathered there.

Earlier, Pauw said he had heard that on Monday morning a police officer tried to secure a warrant for his arrest in Pietermaritzburg. However, the officer had failed as a magistrate did not authorise it.

Pauw said the warrant related to five charges including fraud and crimen injuria, and relating to the contravention of the Tax Administration Act.

He was unsure about whether police would again try and get the warrant authorised via another magistrate.

Pauw said the organised crime unit of the Hawks was investigating him.

Earlier this month, the Hawks confirmed they were investigating a leak of classified information that was published in Pauw's book. However they said they were not investigating Pauw himself, but the source of the leak.

The Hawks have confirmed the SSA had opened the case.

A few weeks ago, shortly after the release of the book, Fraser's family demanded that Pauw retract sections of the book. They said Pauw "unjustly accused the Fraser family of criminal activity" and that they were briefing their lawyers "to set the record straight".

Pauw had also received a cease and desist letter from the SSA demanding that he withdraw the book.

Among several explosive allegations in the book is the claim that Fraser established a rogue intelligence programme, known as the Principal Agent Network (PAN), by copying the signature of then-intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils.

The DA has since threatened to take legal action if the police and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) do not act against Fraser.

Pauw on Friday said he had heard that Fraser had written to Kasrils on the signature matter. He was yet to hear more about this.

He described the SSA's finances as "a big black hole in which money disappears". He said it was unknown how much money the agency had and how much it spent on so-called secret activities.

"There are only three things standing between us and a gangster state: courts, civil society and media," Pauw said.

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