The South African State Security Agency (SSA) on Friday issued a cease and desist letter to NB Publishers, demanding the withdrawal of the explosive new political book The President’s Keepers from stores and ordering the publisher to retract parts of the book.
This follows the overwhelming positive reception of journalist and author Jacques Pauw’s book, which investigates South Africa’s “gangster state” and is published by Tafelberg, an imprint of NB Publishers.
The book exposes 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” in South Africa’s law-enforcement agencies.
The SSA said they noted the publisher’s admission that the views of the people implicated in the book were not sought, and said that it was not surprised that the book was replete with inaccuracies.
“We hold the [author, editor and publisher] jointly and severally responsible for any repeat publication of this fake information,” the SSA said.
The SSA further threatened the publisher with an interdict to prevent it from further distributing, printing, publishing or promoting the book, should it not be withdrawn from book stores.
“Criminal charges will be instituted against individuals concerned in relation to those parts of the book, which are in violation of the relevant statutes,” said the SSA.
The publisher 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.
A letter from the SSA’s lawyers stated that its client was constitutionally mandated to ensure the security of the State and protect the identity of its members and agents.
“It has a duty to act in stances where such security is breached either by disclosure of its legitimate operational methods, classified documents, as well as the identity of its agents,” said the letter.
The South African Revenue Service (Sars) is also considering legal steps against Pauw and the Sunday Times, which published an extract from the book.
Through a statement released on Friday, Sars said it wished to categorically state that it was deeply concerned about the publication of confidential taxpayer information in contravention of Chapter 6 of the Tax Administration Act (TAA) 28 of 2011, especially Section 69 which prohibits the disclosure of taxpayer information by a Sars official or former Sars official.