KwaZulu-Natal police bosses have removed Colonel Reuben Govender as the investigating officer from a criminal case in which author Jacques Pauw and News24 investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh are the suspects.
The police informed the lawyer acting on behalf of the journalists on Tuesday afternoon that Govender has been removed from the case and that they would no longer have to report to the Durban North police station.
A new investigating officer has been assigned to the case and the docket has been moved to the provincial head office.
This after Govender, who has a track record of intimidating suspects and locking them up over weekends, insisted that Pauw and Myburgh present themselves at his office this week to be charged.
Pauw said the decision to remove the case from Durban North is a vindication for investigative journalists in South Africa and hopefully marks the start of an era of more transparency on the part of the authorities.
"Now we call on the prosecuting authorities and police to investigate the substance of the allegations in books such as mine and Myburgh's, and the #GuptaLeaks stories rather than preferring to shoot the messenger."
News24 editor Adriaan Basson said he was extremely relieved at the news that Govender was removed from the case.
"It was clear to us from the start that Govender's intention was to intimidate us, nothing else. We do not regard ourselves as journalists as being above the law and will fully cooperate with a legitimate investigation. Naturally, we will keep on fighting this case against Myburgh and Pauw, as we believe it undermines the freedom of investigative journalists to execute their constitutionally protected duties."