PEN Afrikaans and PEN South Africa note with concern that the South African Revenue Service has brought legal action against investigative journalist Jacques Pauw.
On Friday, 15 December, SARS filed an application in the Western Cape High Court for a declaratory order against Pauw saying that he contravened the Tax Administration Act by publishing confidential information in his political exposé The President's Keepers.
SARS commissioner Tom Moyane’s affidavit lists extracts from The President’s Keepers that SARS deems confidential information and requests that Pauw be ordered to pay costs should he oppose SARS’ application.
In response, Pauw said he and his legal team would argue that legislation could not be used to hide a crime, and that the court application confirms the accuracy of Pauw’s findings published in The President’s Keepers by labelling the extracts as confidential information.
The application is expected to be heard early in the new year.
SARS is the second state institution to have zeroed in on Pauw. In November, the State Security Agency (SSA) sent two cease-and-desist letters to NB Publishers, threatening with civil and criminal proceedings should they refrain from withdrawing the book from the market. According to the SSA, parts of the book contravene the Intelligency Services Act.
The publisher and author remain steadfast in their conviction that the information contained in the book is of undeniable public interest and that publication thereof is protected by the constitutionally enshrined right of freedom of expression.
As organisations committed to upholding freedom of expression and supporting press freedom, PEN Afrikaans and PEN South Africa stand in solidarity with NB Publishers and Jacques Pauw.