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Heavy security at PTA launch of 'The President’s Keepers'

It follows a mysterious power cut that saw the abrupt halt of the Johannesburg leg of the launch on Wednesday night.

The launch of 'The President's Keepers' by Jacques Pauw in Pretoria. Picture: Hitekani Magwedze/EWN.

PRETORIA - Just hours after it emerged a criminal case has been opened related to Jacques Pauw's new book, a heavy security contingent has been deployed to Pretoria for Thursday evening's launch of The President's Keepers.

It follows a mysterious power cut that saw the abrupt halt of the Johannesburg leg of the launch on Wednesday night.

The book reveals allegations against President Jacob Zuma relating to corruption and irregularities with his tax affairs.

After Wednesday’s dramatic power cut in Johannesburg and threats on Pauw’s life, at least 10 security personnel can be seen standing guard ahead of Thursday evening’s launch at the Brooklyn Mall.

Exclusive Books says its asked mall managers, who are also monitoring the event closely, to ensure that their generators are working.

The launch is taking place just hours after the Hawks confirmed a criminal case has been opened related to The President’s Keepers.

The Hawks say no one has been charged at this stage but they're investigating a possible leak of classified information.

Pauw says the Hawks told him on Thursday that a complaint had been laid against him and not a charge.

He says he is going to meet his legal team on Friday to prepare, in case he finds himself in handcuffs.

“We’re consulting with senior counsel tomorrow and we’ll prepare an application for bail should I be arrested. So, we don’t know, anything can happen.”

Meanwhile, the South African National Editors’ Forum says its outraged by steps taken by the Hawks on Pauw.

Sanef's Adriaan Basson says the organisation is fully behind Pauw's work.

“Although he did not produce his work in a newspaper or an online publication, we will support him as far as we could because we do regard him as one of our journalists.”

At the same time, Zuma himself has taken a swipe at those supporting the contents of the book.

He was responding to the debate on his annual address to the National Council of Provinces this evening.

“The new tendency of carrying books that are written by people who are speculating, [based on] rumours [and] allegations and they actually believe they are tested fact. Why they do so? Because they have nothing to say. So, they’ve got to be mimicking authors who’ve written some books. This country is faced with a big challenge. What do you do with such opposition parties, really?”

PUBLIC INTEREST

The investigative journalist may be able to argue a case of public interest if charges are laid against him in relation to the contents of his book.

The State Security Agency says certain parts of the book contravene the Intelligence Services Act and on Wednesday it opened a case at the Lyttelton Police Station in Pretoria.

Law Professor James Grant says Pauw may incur liability if he assisted a former agent in disclosing confidential information.

“To be technically correct, I think that he might incur liability as an accomplice. However, as many have raised, there is the constitutional issue of the fact that Pauw is probably and utterly within his rights to freedom of expression.”

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)

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