Jacques Pauw, the investigative journalist who authored The President’s Keepers, has been dragged to the Western Cape High Court by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) for allegedly publishing a confidential information in his controversial book.
As gathered, SARS commissioner Tom Moyane established in his affidavit filed at the high court that the embattled writer revealed in his book taxpayers’ information, which was in contravention of the Tax Administration Act.
“Such declaratory orders are imperative in order to give confidence to the public knowing that taxpayer information would not be willy-nilly disclosed by third parties who have no authority to be in possession of such information and to disclose it without consequences,” Moyane argued.
The SARS commissioner also wants the court to order Pauw to pay the costs of the case, should he oppose the organization’s application.
Responding to the development, the publisher of the book – NB Publishers – said SARS’ court action against the author is a clear indication that the revenue service “conceded the truth of the parts in the book it named in the application”.
NB Publishers, however, announced that it would be defending SARS’ application in the new year.
“We are proud to say we will defend our author and the book vigorously against Mr Moyane’s application because there is clear and compelling public interest in The President’s Keepers revealing that President Jacob Zuma has perverted the law enforcement agencies of this country to hide the fact that he is not tax compliant and that he received a salary from Roy Moodley’s company while in office,” it stated.
Since its publication and distribution, Pauw’s new book has been at the centre of a row with the State Security Agency and the South African Revenue Service. Last month, the State Security Agency (SSA) confirmed that it has laid charges against the veteran journalist for contravening certain sections of the State Security Act.
The charges, according SSA spokesperson, Brian Dube, stemmed from the publication of Pauw’s controversial book, which alleges that Zuma had not filed tax returns for the first several years that he served as President of the country, that (if honestly calculated) he would owe SARS about R60-million in taxes, and that he had illegally and in breach of the Constitution received an R1-million per month from a dodgy security company for several months after he became President.
Afterward, the SSA sent a cease and desist letter to The President’s Keepers’ title editor Russel Martin, asking him to withdraw the books from bookshelves and retracts some parts of the book.
But the publisher replied that their lawyers were dealing with the matter and that they have no intention of withdrawing the book at the stage. Though the agency threatened to go to court to interdict NB Publishers from further distribution of the book, Jacques Pauw replied that instead of withdrawing the books, he would print more copies for public consumption.
The president’s keepers has become South Africa’s best seller since its release.