Abuse of Power

'Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others.' Paramahansa Yogananda.

For a review of the new war zone in which the Maharaj family found itself following their involvement in the war against apartheid, see the three sections below.

(Note that eleven years after the allegations of the Maharaj family's 'bribery and corruption' first appeared in the media in 2002 without forewarning or their right to reply, and for which they were never charged in a court of law, a new twist was added to this intrigue by Shirene Carim-Fradet's Samanths Markle-like media rants against Zarina, venting her decades-long sibling rivalry with Zarina.

One of Shirene's many attention-seeking rants, this time to the Mail & Guardian newspaper, speaks for itself: see the last two paragraphs of the section 'THE NPA'S DIRTY TRICKS', the first of the three sections below).


On Sunday 16 February 2003, the front page headlines of the Sunday Times screamed ‘SHAIK PAID MONEY TO MAHARAJ’. The article insinuated that, during his tenure as Transport Minister, Mac Maharaj had awarded two tenders worth billions of rands to consortia involving Schabir Shaik, a South African businessman, in exchange for payments. The payments from Shaik were listed in great detail, their timing supposedly indicating that the awarding of the tenders had been in exchange for bribes.

It was later to become clear that this ‘news’ had, in terms of the NPA Act, been unlawfully leaked to the Sunday Times by the NPA at a time when the NPA was in possession of conclusive documentary evidence, rigorously and painstakingly gathered by their investigative wing, the Scorpions, since February 2002, contradicting their own story!
The evidence that had been amassed by them was that the State Tender Board and the National Roads Agency, both autonomous authorities totally independent of the Department of Transport, of which Mac was Minister, had respectively evaluated the relevant tender bids in terms of strict criteria, and awarded the tenders, on this basis, to the consortia in which Shaik had an interest; that Mac neither could have influenced, nor could have been involved in, nor was involved in either of their decisions; that the Department of Transport’s own earlier evaluation and recommendation to the State Tender Board that it award the driver’s licence tender to a consortium that was a rival of Shaik’s was rejected by the State Tender Board, which asked the Director-General of Transport to weight the criteria differently and re-evaluate the tenders in terms of this new weighting; and that in terms of this new evaluation the consortium in which Shaik had an interest won the tender.
So the question is glaring: If there was no link between any payments made by Shaik to Mac and the awarding of the tenders to Shaik, and the NPA already had proof of this, who was behind the leak smearing Mac in the Sunday Times , and why? (For an answer to this, see below and Shades of Difference ).
Just prior to the Sunday Times leak, then President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki - globally notorious for his Aids denialism, which was to cause a total of at least 330,000 preventable deaths of AIDS sufferers - had been overheard at a cocktail party, attended by some of the top brass of Rand Merchant Bank, saying about Mac, who had left government(in 1999) and was now a Director on the Board of RMB: ‘ I will bring Mac down.’

For more information on the relations between Thabo Mbeki and Mac Maharaj, going as far back as Mac's release from Robben Island (after Mac had, at risk of being imprisoned again if caught, smuggled out Mandela's autobiography 'Long Walk to Freedom'), see ‘Dancing to a Different Rhythm’ by Zarina Maharaj.

On the Monday after the Sunday Times article appeared, one of the authors of the article, Mzilikazi Wa Afrika, was interviewed live just after 8 a.m. on SAfm radio by John Perlman. In the interview, Wa Afrika astonishingly admitted, among other things, the following:
Ah, firstly we are trying to find a connection between why Mr. Maharaj was paid this kind of money, because we are not sure yet, but we got some ideas but we need to verify whether those ideas are true or not. But all we know is that Mr. Maharaj was paid this money. But so far we are still trying to find out what for.
He also declared:
You see we are not saying that awarding of those tenders, that is the R2.5 billion tender to upgrade the N3 road between Johannesburg and Durban, and the one for the driver’s licence, there’s something wrong with that.
It is mind-boggling that the Sunday Times, on the very day after publishing the article alleging that Mac had accepted bribes from Shaik, conceded that they did not know whether such allegations were true or not; and, moreover, that they were not saying there had been any wrongdoing in the awarding of those tenders!
Why then had this widely circulated newspaper published so harmful an article to Mac's family? Even the children were being persecuted at school because of this article and the subsequent media hysteria it unleashed in a further torrent of damaging articles.
At the time, despite already knowing for a fact that Mac had not awarded those tenders, the NPA, continued - using their unlimited resources of taxpayers’ money to conduct ‘further investigations’ between 2003 and 2009 into Mac’s ‘corruption’ as Minister of Transport (and his wife's)! Somebody (a tiny man in more ways than one) was indeed determined to 'bring Mac down' at any cost, taxpayer's or not!
After the screaming Sunday headlines Mac and Zarina of course expected that the administration's s dirty tricks against them would continue. Like when a newspaper editor, Jovial Rantao, phoned Mac for his comments about his wife's impending ‘arrest’ for ‘tax evasion’! after the Presidency's hacks in the media had carried this story. Mac asked Rantao where he had got this information from, and the Maharaj's voice-recorded his answer: he had heard it just a couple of weeks earlier from a ‘reliable’ source within the Scorpions, – the investigating wing of the NPA, then headed by Leonard McCarthy (now a high-flier in the World Bank, backed for that post at the time by President Thabo Mbeki, before Mbeki was fired as President of the ANC and of South Africa by his very own party at the ANC's 2012 Polokwane Elective Conference).

Tax evasion!? Significantly, Bulelani Nguka, Head of the NPA, and another powerful ally and friend of Mbeki, had briefed editors (notoriously he had invited only black editors to that briefing, including Rantao) just before Rantao had made that phone call.  (Compare this 'only black editors invited' stance with President Mandela's dream of racial reconciliation that he had striven so hard to turn into a reality). The media were once again being manipulated to intensify the smear campaign and ensure that, by falsely implicating Zarina in tax evasion and even bribery, the corruption allegations against Mac would stick in the public mind.

The leaks to the media put the onus on Mac to prove his innocence in the court of world public opinion, rather than his accusers proving his guilt in a court of law, which they knew was impossible given the evidence in their possession that Mac was never involved in awarding any tenders to Shaik's companies. Keeping him under this cloud of negative public opinion using a state institution, the NPA, and the sensationalist media intent on selling news regardless, would serve the Presidency's purpose of ruining Mac's reputation, and Zarina's. In 2016 it has been FOURTEEN YEARS that these rumours and innuendo of the Maharaj's 'bribery and corruption' have been allowed to fester, with no charges of bribery and corruption having been brought against him!

We remain disgusted that these leaks to the media by the NPA's Scorpions, as well as Ngcuka’s initial briefing to only black editors were in direct contravention of the law: anyone found guilty of such leaks could be sentenced to up to fifteen years in prison. The Maharajs were particularly struck by the impunity with which the Scorpions and the media were abusing their powers.

And then, eleven long years later, in 2013, enter Shirene Fradet Carim. In one of her fits of venom against Zarina, who for decades had been the object of her vicious sibling rivalry, Shirene tells the M&G of Zarina's 'success' and her 'failure', blames Zarina for her estrangement with her daughters, and adds that though Zarina had never trusted her, she'd readily confided in her that she'd just accepted a bribe from Shaik on Mac's behalf! And that Shaik had even phoned her home to tell her this! In response to the M&G's question as to why she'd now, these many years later, decided to 'expose' Zarina, she replies that Zarina had been too 'relaxed' about the allegations of bribery and corruption against Mac and herself, so she had decided to do her duty and reveal the 'foul secret' of this bribery. (See the M&G article, which speaks for itself). Small wonder one of her daughters revealed later to Zarina, both verbally and in email correspondence, that Shirene, unbalanced, 'spits venom' at whoever her sense of failure targets at the time, so much so that the fall-out from her conduct with so many others had forced her daughter to cut off relations with her mother and move out of their London home, a home about which a shocking 30-year old 'foul secret' - with serious legal implications - is yet to be revealed.

As Judge Hefer underscores below, the abuse of the constitutional right to privacy, dignity and innocence of anyone alleged to have committed any crime is a constitutional offence until such allegations are proven in a court of law. It is in the interest of those with their own personal agendas who have latched onto this constitutional abuse/offence to be mindful of this.


Following the Sunday Times article alleging Mac’s corruption, a journalist asked Mac whether Bulelani Ngcuka, the head of the NPA, had been investigated in 1989/90 by ANC intelligence, and what the findings of the investigation had been. Mac confirmed openly and publicly that an investigation had indeed taken place and that, at the time, Intelligence had found that Ngcuka probably was a spy for the apartheid regime.

As a result, President Mbeki appointed the Hefer Commission to investigate this claim. If the allegation could not be proved against Ngcuka, the matter would be put to rest there and then. Clearly, unproven allegations would only be allowed to fester and destroy some - Mbeki's perceived 'enemies' like Mac - and not others.
Interestingly, the president changed the terms of the reference of the Hefer Commission three times – effectively precluding it from investigating the Scorpions’ abuse of power. Ngcuka was cleared by the commission of the spying allegation, and could move on with his life. Mac, described as ‘unrepentant’ by Ngcuka’s law team – a term once used to describe him by his sadistic torturers in prison, who once conceded publicly they could not break him so loyal was he to his comrades and the struggle for a new SA – now became the victim 'of a sensationalist media feeding frenzy seemingly bent on eating him alive so they could sell 'news!
Despite Mbeki's third version of the terms of reference, which limited the investigation to whether or not Ngcuka had been a spy, Judge Joos Hefer found that not only were the NPA leaks to the Sunday Times an abuse of power, but also that the public opprobrium into which Mac and Zarina had been catapulted as a result of this abuse was ‘intolerable’ and ‘unacceptable’. Yet the allegations of bribery and corruption were left to hang over them  uncleared. This was clearly good enough for Mbeki.
In his own words, this is what former Judge of Appeal and Acting Chief Justice Joos Hefer said:
It must be … accepted that someone in Mr. Ngcuka’s office has disclosed information relating to a pending investigation to the press and that this is likely to have occurred contrary to provisions of section 41(6)(a) of the NPA Act … I find Mr. Maharaj’s evidence most disturbing. As I have already said, it is beyond doubt that leaks [to the press] did occur. I have also indicated that it is highly likely that the guilty party was within Mr. Ngcuka’s office and we have it from Mr. Ngcuka that he or she could not be traced. Such a state of affairs cannot be tolerated. Months have elapsed since Mr. Maharaj was questioned by members of the Investigating Directorate and, although Mr. Ngcuka has assured me that the investigation has not been completed, no charges have been preferred against Mr. Maharaj or against his wife. In the meantime, press reports about the allegations against them kept appearing. In a country such as ours where human dignity is a basic constitutional value and every person is presumed to be innocent until he or she is found guilty, this is wholly unacceptable. Section 41(6)(a) of the Prosecuting Authority Act was not enacted for nothing and as long as someone in the National Director’s Office keeps flouting the prohibition against the disclosure of information [still to be tezsted in a court of law], one cannot be assured that the prosecuting Authority is being used for the purpose for which it was intended.
These comments by Judge Hefer ostensibly led President Mbeki to set up a one person inquiry under then Director General of the Presidency, Reverend Frank Chikane into the leaks made by the Scorpions. However, if this inquiry ever took place, the Maharaj's were never informed of its findings. 
And such abuse had taken place even during the proceedings of the Hefer Commission: Mr Ngcuka had refused to answer certain questions even though he was under oath. Judge Hefer had noted that in doing so Mr Ngcuka was prima facie committing a criminal offence. Mr Ngcuka knew, however, that he was on safe ground as he, the National Director of Public Prosecutions (equivalent to the Head of the FBI of the USA), was the only one in law who could prosecute himself!

Despite Judge Hefer’s findings, the NPA's unlawful leaks and investigations continued for many years to come. As did continuing false rumours of their corruption in the press instigated by the powers that be. Still, finding no evidence of Mac's bribery and corruption as Minister of Transport, the NPA files on this allegation was eventually closed. But not until irreparable harm had been done to the Maharaj family.