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Unprecedented turnout at the launch of Jacques Pauw’s The President’s Keepers. Take that, SSA.

Peter Bruce in conversation with Jacques Pauw at the Exclusive Books, Hyde Park launch of The President’s Keepers. Pic: Exclusive Books.


The scene was set: a crowd nearing 1000 people. Former editor of Business Day and the Financial Mail, Peter Bruce, clad in a dapper waistcoat, whip smart mind at the ready. Photographers. Journalists. Bodyguards. Extra monitors placed on upstairs levels for those unable to find seating downstairs. And investigative journalist par excellence, Jacques Pauw, comfortably seated in a swivel chair.

Yes, the Johannesburg launch of the exceptional political exposé which is Pauw’s The President’s Keepers, a body of work exposing those keeping Jacob Zuma in power (think Guptas. Think mafia. Think Russian connections.) was about to kick off – with meaning.

And then, forty minutes into their conversation, the power tripped. Eina.

But before the whole of Hyde Park was engulfed in darkness (one bonus – no one had to pay for their parking tickets!), the CEO of Exclusive Books, Benjamin Trisk, opened the event by stating that this is probably the largest audience Exclusive Books has ever had – overshadowing Redi Tlhabi’s launch of Khwezi a few months ago by a margin.

Don’t believe him? See for yourself:

“I’d like to thank our marketing agency, the State Security Agency,” Trisk quipped to the audience’s delight. This comment was made in reference to NB Publishers, the publishers of The President’s Keepers, who had received a cease-and-desist letter from the SSA demanding that the book be withdrawn and certain parts of the book retracted.

Having sold out on the first day, with another 30 000 copies published little over a week after its initial publication date, and all 980 copies which were on sale at the launch sold out before the launch began (people were queuing for an hour), the sales of this book have been unprecedented and the attempt to censor it has only fueled South Africans’ curiosity.

“This is insane,” Bruce laughed. “I first read this book about two months ago. It was so terrifying I had to keep on leaving the room. He is so courageous; so relentless.”

(A similar comment was made by another reader, currently halfway through the book: “I actually wish I wasn’t reading it. What Pauw’s exposing is sordid. Simply sordid.”)

Pauw said he’s expecting even bigger reactions from law enforcement agencies. “If only they can sue us; we can have a court case, but it’s not going to help the state. South Africa’s legal reaction at the moment shows complete idiocy in law enforcement agencies.”

This book is of relevance to all tax-paying South Africans, with Pauw stating that “[I]n the space of two to three years, over a billion rand of your money was spent on the PAN-project,” adding that the director general of the SSA, Arthur Fraser, forged former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils’s signature on the document which condones this intelligence programme.

Fraser’s family is considering taking legal steps against Pauw, for exposing Fraser to be what he truly is – one of the (many) Zuma keepers.

The installation of a server in Fraser’s house which gave him direct access to state security secrets can be added to the list of crimes and misdemeanours committed by those currently governing our country.

And Pauw doesn’t stop at Fraser…

The auditor general has no insight into the budget of the state, Pauw declares. Light is shed on the mysterious break-ins at the office of the Chief Justice. South Africa’s National Protection Agency is named (and shamed) as having a hand in ensuring Zuma’s corruption-ridden party remains in power.

Riveted? So were we. Unfortunately Eskom thought otherwise.

The blackout didn’t deter Pauw or the stalwart bibliophiles, with Pauw signing books (by cellphone light) until 23:30. Ja-nee, kyk. Pauw and our concerned, conscious South Africans aren’t going anywhere.

Take that, SSA.

The President's Keeper

Book details


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