Former State Security Agency (SSA) director general Arthur Fraser has issued a court summons against investigative journalist Jacques Pauw and NB Publishers over "harmful" statements made in Pauw's book, The President's Keepers .
Fraser's lawyer, Rapulane Kgoroeadira, confirmed this on Tuesday evening, adding that the quantum for damages due to defamation stood at R35m.
He said his instructions were that statements in the book caused Fraser harm and also affected his business.
"He has lost a substantial amount of money."
It was too early to say what would happen next, Kgoroeadira added.
"The summons has been served. We will see whether the matter is defended and take it from there."
NB Publishers indicated it was aware of the summons.
In the book, Pauw wrote that Fraser "concocted" the Principal Agent Network (PAN) in his capacity at the National Intelligence Agency (which later formed part of the SSA).
The PAN, suspended in 2011, became a household name with the release of the book, and was later red-flagged in the SSA high-level review panel report.
The 10-member panel, chaired by Dr Sydney Mufamadi, found widespread abuse of the country's intelligence services for political ends, including internal ANC factional battles.
According to the SSA report and Pauw's book, there was nothing necessarily sinister in setting up the PAN as it was initially envisioned, News24 reported previously.However, the allegations put before the SSA high-level review panel about the PAN were "disturbing", according to the report.
"It appeared to the panel that there had been instances of serious criminal behaviour, which had taken place under the guise of conducting covert work and that this behaviour may have involved theft, forgery and uttering, fraud, corruption and even bordered on transgressions of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act," according to the SSA report.
But Fraser said last month that the panel had essentially lied to President Cyril Ramaphosa in its report and had taken a "myopic" approach.
He set out the various reasons why the panel's findings would have given Ramaphosa a tainted view of the problems in the intelligence agencies.
Fraser said the PAN had been around for years, but a decision was taken in 1999 to review it because agents were targeting "former liberation movements".
There was also "little control over their revenue generation from the businesses that they were using as front companies", he said.
"It is these same individuals, who previously infiltrated liberation movements, who later migrated into intelligence structures after amalgamation and continued their practices and management of sources stemming from the former apartheid era into the democratic dispensation," Fraser added at the time.
He said the panel investigated some breaches within the PAN, but ignored other intelligence breaches.
These include tobacco smuggling and intelligence operations against the South African Revenue Services' probe of it; and the leaking of classified documents to news agency Al Jazeera.
Fraser said the report made contradictory remarks about alleged political interference in the intelligence services.
The report says that politically loyal individuals were deployed to the intelligence agencies by politicians, and that the executive ignored warnings about the influence of "a certain family" over the president - presumably, a reference to the Guptas.