23 May 2024 | 07:13 AM

M&G’s questions to Mac, in full

Key Takeaways

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj has responded to questions from the Mail & Guardian, pertaining to Friday’s story The evidence that damns Mac”.

The questions the M&G sent Maharaj:

Dear Mr Maharaj,

We are preparing an article for tomorrow’s edition of the Mail & Guardian, and would like to give you an opportunity to comment. Please respond to the following by 2pm today:

1. It appears that the evidence, which includes a trail of payments to you and/or your wife at times which were material to various contracts (N3, drivers’ license, ATNS upgrade) awarded/administered (although not necessarily adjudicated) by the department of transport during your time as minister is highly suggestive of (a) a corrupt relationship between you and at least Schabir Shaik and (b) conflicts of interest so overwhelming that it rendered you unfit for public office. Please comment.

2. In 2005, in an interview with your biographer, you recounted what you averred was part of your section 28 interview with the DSO, and also handed a transcript of the section 28 interview to your biographer. (An extract from the interview with the biographer is reproduced below.) In this regard:

2.1 Did you ask for permission from the NDPP to disclose what you averred was information from your section 28 interview as well as a transcript of the interview itself? If not, were you not in breach (even if technical) of section 41(6) of the Act? And did you not, by your own disclosure, waive any rights regarding the non-disclosure of your section 28 interview?

2.2 In your account to your biographer of the section 28 interview you appear to say that you had told the DSO that you or you wife had paid for the Disney World hotel stay at the time of the stay. On the available facts this was not the truth. Please comment.

Please confirm receipt of this email.

Thanking you,

Stefaans Brümmer,

M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism

Read Maharaj’s response to the M&G’s questions

Extract of interview between Maharaj and his official biographer, Padraig O’Malley:

17 Oct 2005: Maharaj, Mac – The O’Malley Archives

MM [Mac Maharaj] On the phone. I was relaxed, I was comfortable, I was not fearful — oh, what will this all mean, what is he going to do to me? I was there in a frame of mind that says that I can be open, there is no problem, and when I can’t answer the question I’ll tell them I can’t because we were talking about reconstruction from memory from so far back. So that was my attitude.

Day one I answered the questions and there were some difficult questions. One of those was the hotel bill in Disney World because after I answered and said that I recall paying for it, they put some documents in front of me, letters between Schabir Shaik and some company suggesting that they had paid. I said, “No, that’s not possible. I recall the discussion with Schabir in which he asked me to pay and I said but I have paid.” Then they came and –

POM [Padraig O’Malley] Did you have a discussion with Schabir?

MM Long before that, after Atlanta, 1996. He asked me to pay and I said, “No, but I have paid”, and he dropped the matter.

They then produced the hotel bill and there appeared a Mastercard payment and I dropped the matter.

They then produced the hotel bill and there appeared a Mastercard payment and I said, “This is the conclusion of the account, the settlement, that’s my Mastercard but hold on, Mastercard, it’s ABSA, I have a Mastercard.”

So I said, “Can I have a minute?” And I went out and I phoned my bank and I read the credit card number that was there and the bank said to me oh that’s my wife’s credit card.

So I went back and said, here, this is the credit card. But then they said, look, the earlier payment, the deposit, is an American Express.

I said but I had traveller’s cheques from American Express. They said, no, this is an American Express card. So I said, “Whose is it?” I had been able to go out and phone, I don’t have an Express card, American Express, neither does my wife.

But even there, Padraig, when they were presenting some information that seemed to contradict my recollection I didn’t feel concerned, I didn’t feel afraid. I didn’t feel that this can now be construed as proof and evidence of corruption.

So that was the basic frame of mind and if you read the transcript, which I paid for and obtained because I had asked them whether I would be given a transcript of my evidence and they had said yes, so I got it, you will see that it was a very relaxed environment and yet they were interrogating me in an extremely adversarial way, adversarial and inquisitorial.

POM Who conducted the investigation?

MM Advocate Anna Marie van der Colff and then there was an Advocate C Bakkies and there was one other person who never opened his mouth.

POM That was two Afrikaners.

MM Yes. The names are there in the transcript. Yes I have given you that. What they were doing was they were asking you a question and then when you answered then they would give you documents from their side seemingly to contradict your answers. It was like trapping you. That’s what I mean by inquisitorial and adversarial. I still didn’t take exception.

If you read the transcripts you will find the next day when they interviewed Zarina they were very aggressive and they were maintaining the stance of questioning you about an incident or a fact, you give your answer, then they put a document in front of you, then you give another answer to accommodate that and then they put another document.

They were not putting everything in front of you. They like ensnared you which I personally, now reflecting, say that is, in my view, not the way in which we take into account the rights of the individual that are enshrined in our Bill of Rights. I don’t think it is proper to be interviewing a person, even a suspect, in that tricky way.

I think by the time you are charged the state has to put all its information that it has on the table so that your answers take into account all that, there are no hidden agendas and discoveries of documents are done. However, we passed through that and we felt comfortable.

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Before joining the amaBhungane team in 2017, Micah was the national coordinator for media freedom and diversity at the Right2Know Campaign. He holds a Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and a BA Honours in History from Wits University.

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