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 particularly Section 2 (of the three sections below) on Judge Hefer's conclusions at the Hefer Commission about the blatant political persecution to which the Maharaj's were subjected following Mac Maharaj's resignation from government.

Note that in 2013, over 10 years after these allegations first appeared in the media - allegations still unproven as of 2021, for which the Maharaj's have never been charged in a court of law - a new twist was suddenly added to these political machinations by a skeleton in Zarina's cupboard, Shirene Carim-Fradet, whose attention-seeking rant to the media accusing the Maharaj's of corruption was unsurprising, given that for decades Zarina had been the object of her paranoia.

What WAS surprising, however, is how hastily, without checking her 'facts', Fradet's 'evidence' against the Maharaj's was pounced upon by those in the media intent on justifying their politically-instigated trial by media - despite the glaring inconsistencies in Fradet's claims, inconsistencies pointed out even by an Independent Newspaper columnist and volunteered by Fradet more than 10 years after the media allegations against the Maharaj's first appeared!

  The following July 2021 eNCA TV interview, and several other recent media interviews/news articles attesting to Mac's innocence of corruption - as well as Fradet's looming problems with the UK authorities for her foul secret of breaking the law there - may finally put paid to her defamatory rumour-mongering?


Now for the background to all this.


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 - 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, 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 risked going back to prison if caught smuggling out Mandela's autobiography 'Long Walk to Freedom' on his release), see ‘Dancing to a Different Rhythm’.

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 dirty tricks against them would continue. And it has, on and off!
Like ongoing manipulation of the media, which continues to 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 know is 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 corrupt state institution, the NPA, and its hacks in the media, would serve the purpose of 'bringing Mac down'.


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 Mbeki's perceived 'enemies'.
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 thd Maharaj family had been catapulted as a result of this abuse was ‘intolerable’ and ‘unacceptable’.

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 NPA. 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 almost two decades to come! Still finding no evidence of Mac's bribery and corruption as Minister of Transport, the NPA files on this allegation were eventually closed, having almost ruined the Maharaj family, including their children.