The South African Federation of Trade Unions strongly condemns the raid on the home of Jacques Pauw, author of “The President’s Keepers”, carried out by the Hawks’ “Crimes against the State Unit”, who claimed to be “looking for documents”.
The Hawks raided his guesthouse in Riebeek-Kasteel outside Cape Town, after obtaining a warrant from a magistrate on 28 February after a case was opened by the State Security Agency, based on allegations Pauw made in his book.
Officials claimed they were looking for any documents related to an alleged violation of the apartheid-era Protection of Information Act and the National Strategic Intelligence Act. But nothing significant was found; his wife told News24 that the police were going through CVs of people who had applied for work at their guesthouse and old copies of Getaway magazines.
Pauw says that “They left with a few papers…There were no secret documents in my office. Did they really think I would keep my documentation in my office? Because I’ve expected raids like this for quite some time”.
He added that although the country’s political leadership had changed since his book was published, “the old guard” was still in charge at the police and the NPA. Orders to raid his house came from Pretoria, but the officers who conducted the search were professional, and were merely following orders.
Pauw claims that it was the State Security Agency director-general, Arthur Fraser who was responsible for the raid. In the book, he alleged that Fraser is central to a parallel intelligence network, which allegedly looted millions from the state. He said the raid was a confirmation of the veracity of the allegations contained in his book.
Around the same time the home of News24 investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh was burgled. Myburgh says he “can’t conclusively say that I’ve also become a victim of some sort of an orchestrated raid by the security apparatus, but on the other hand, the sequence of events certainly is strange.”
Also within the same period the SAFTU spokesperson, Patrick Craven, was robbed of three laptops and a cellphone by two people purporting to have been sent by the SA Revenue Service (SARS).
“They seemed plausible” he said. They wanted to check if anybody is renting part of the property. It was some sort of a lifestyle audit‚” But it turned out that it was a well-planned and professional attempt to steal computers. There may be a political motive behind this.”
The South African National Editor’s Forum says that this an attempt by the state to intimidate journalists: “It’s not only an attempt to intimidate Pauw but also other journalists. It sends a message that if you want to do good journalism, investigate corruption, we’re going to come after you.”
SAFTU fully agrees with Pauw that “It’s outrageous that the Hawks can come to a private residence of a journalist and search his office for official documents.” Pauw has boldly exposed some of the worst examples of corruption, but rather than follow up on the people he identified the Hawks have ‘shot the messenger!’
Durban police’s Colonel Reuben Govender was also shooting the messenger, when he summoned Myburgh to a police station to answer questions over the contents of his book The Republic of Gupta.
This is not just an attack on individuals but an assault on the constitutional right to free speech and for all South Africans to publish and receive information, in particular information that exposes crime and corruption.
While the federation is critical of the media in general, with its owners’ pro-business bias, we fully support courageous journalist like Pauw, Myburgh and many others who are ready to risk their freedom and even their lives to ensure that we are kept informed and told the truth.