In response to the many kind offers from members of the public, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) has established a legal defence fund for The President’s Keepers author, Jacques Pauw.
The fund – which is to be administered by MMA – is a non-profit donation platform set up to receive public, anonymous donations for fees and expenses relating to criminal or civil legal action against Pauw in respect of The President’s Keepers.
Polity's Sane Dhlamini speaks to Media Monitoring Africa's Social Media Editor Motshabi Hoaeane about the fund.
Since publication in October 2017 by NB Publishers, Pauw has been under fire from parties featured in the book, including the State Security Agency and KwaZulu-Natal police, the latter in apparent collusion with businessman and racehorse owner Roy Moodley.
The latest legal threat comes from the South African Revenue Service, which is asking the Western Cape High Court to declare that Pauw contravened the Tax Administration Act by revealing that President Jacob Zuma perverted the law-enforcement agencies of South Africa to hide from the public that he is not tax compliant and received a salary from Moodley while in office. NB Publishers will be responding on behalf of Pauw to SARS’s court application early this year.
In what amounts to a relentless campaign of intimidation, there have also been threats of civil suits against Pauw and NB Publishers.
Through attorney Willem de Klerk and with senior counsel, NB Publishers and Pauw have co-operated with the authorities but have also made it clear that they stand by the book, and are prepared to defend it.
Pauw, who exposed the apartheid-era Vlakplaas death squad, is one of South Africa’s most experienced and respected investigative journalists. The news late last year that a KwaZulu-Natal police officer and magistrate are to be investigated for possible misconduct after warrants of arrest were issued for Pauw and The Republic of Gupta author Pieter-Louis Myburgh is a vindication of investigative journalists in South Africa. The Witness newspaper has revealed that the complainant in the case was Moodley, who is a friend of Zuma’s, and that the charges laid were of fraud, forgery and crimen injuria (criminal defamation). The warrants have since been rescinded.
NB Publishers and Pauw have been touched by the support shown by so many South Africans for the author in this stressful time, and they are grateful to MMA – which has a proud record as an independent watchdog on SA’s media – for setting up and running the fund. When it is clear that the fund is no longer necessary, any remaining money will be used to help the legal defence of individuals and organisations whose right to freedom of expression is infringed upon due to legal action being taken against them or to develop policies that promote, ensure and secure media freedom.