The State Security Agency, having failed to halt distribution of Jacques Pauw’s book, The President’s Keepers, via ‘cease-and-desist’ threats, has opted to pursue the criminal route against the author, notes Legalbrief. It has opened a criminal case against Pauw and a former member of the agency, believed to be Paul Engelke, named as a source in the book. The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation had received the docket, Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed, according to Business Day.

Its Serious Organised Crime Unit would investigate the possible leak of classified information in relation to the Intelligence Services Act, Mulaudzi said. Besides the SSA, threats of legal action have come from the family of the agency’s DG, Arthur Fraser, and the SARS. Pauw said at the official launch of the book in Johannesburg on Wednesday that Engelke, who now resides in Russia, had told him that an arrest warrant had been issued for him (Engelke).

Engelke is an advocate who worked for the SSA as a senior law adviser before he left in 2015.

Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said to be able to charge Pauw, it would have to be proved that what he wrote was true and that he had spoken to an agent who was currently in the SSA. The Act did prohibit a journalist from disclosing classified information provided by a member of the State Security Agency, De Vos said, but it did not prohibit Pauw from publishing classified information about the agency provided to him by a former member.

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The SSA is considering using Pauw as a witness, attorney Willem de Klerk reportedly told News24. ‘We are in contact with authorities to ensure that there is clear communication between us,’ he said. However, he added that they have been informed that the SSA wanted to ‘potentially use Pauw as a witness’. He did not elaborate. In the interim, Pauw and his lawyers are expected to meet to prepare a bail application in the event that he is arrested. Mulaudzi reportedly told News24 that they have turned their attention to whistle-blowers, who leaked the sensitive and confidential information contained in the book, which reveals how the agency was allegedly used to protect President Jacob Zuma from prosecution. A Daily Dispatch report says the Hawks are considering what charges could be brought against Pauw. ‘Based on (the investigation)... we will be able to know who has to be charged or if there are no charges that can be laid against him,’ Mulaudzi reportedly told the eNCA news channel. According to a Beeld report, Pauw says the charges confirm the accuracy of the revelations. ‘The Hawks and SSA cannot charge me for false information. I’m now waiting for SARS to charge me. If Tom Moyane says it is true, I’ll say: Halleluja, thank you, Tom Moyane.’

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Pauw believes the authorities will stop at nothing in their endeavours to line their pockets. The author, speaking at the launch of his book at Exclusive Books in Pretoria last night, said politicians should stop hiding behind legislation to conceal crimes. According to a report in The Mercury he said ‘years ago, we talked about corruption in millions. Now we talk about corruption in billions. If Zuma signs the nuke deal, we’ll talk trillions,’ he said. Asked about President Jacob Zuma’s tax information – which he has covered extensively in The President’s Keepers – Pauw said he believed it should be available for public consumption, and added: ‘We have a right to know whether our politicians are paying their taxes.’ Asked to compare the levels of corruption during apartheid and the current dispensation, Pauw said the apartheid government was evil and couldn’t be compared to the current one. ‘If we don’t check the current government, we may end up with one as bad as the apartheid government,’ he said.

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