The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) on Tuesday expressed complete disapproval at the South African Revenue Service (Sars) and the State Security Agency’s (SSA’s) attempts to force the withdrawal of a controversial book detailing allegations of unlawful conduct by President Jacob Zuma from book stores.
This comes after the launch of investigative journalist and author Jacques Pauw’s book, The President’s Keepers, which is said to investigate South Africa’s “gangster state”.
The book, published by Tafelberg, an imprint of NB Publishers, has been flying off the shelves and is also circulating in PDF format via social media. It contains allegations of how millions of rands of tax payers’ money flowed into the bank accounts of bogus spies among other stunning revelations about President Jacob Zuma’s “compromised government and dirty tricks” and South Africa’s law-enforcement agencies.
Saftu said in a statement that those accused have the right to contest the allegations but not to censor them. The only way to establish whether the allegations are lies or true is to hold the public inquiry into ‘State capture’ called for by the former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, which so far Zuma has refused to set up.
The federation demanded that a public inquiry be set up immediately, to allow for a thorough discussion of all allegations.
“After the inquiry hands down its report, the law must then take its course, and, based on its findings, the Hawks and NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] must then prosecute those against who there is evidence of criminal acts,” said Saftu.
Last week, the SSA sent a cease and desist letter to Pauw and NB Publishers, claiming that the content of the book violated the Intelligence Services Act.
The agency threatened to approach the court for an interdict to prevent further distribution, publishing or promotion if the book was not withdrawn from stores.
Yesterday, family members of SSA director-general Arthur Fraser demanded the book be retracted, charging it had "unjustly" accused them of "criminal activity".
The publisher had said in a statement that it stood by the author and the book and that its attorneys would respond to SSA’s cease and desist letter.
NB Publishers' lawyer Willem de Klerk yesterday told the agency in a letter that either the contents of the book were false or they contravened the Intelligence Service Act, but they could not be both as the SSA claimed.
Pauw said he stood by the allegations contained in the book and that he was prepared to seek punitive costs orders against the SSA if it approached the courts for an interdict against him.