Writer Jacques Pauw's lawyers have hit back at the State Security Agency (SSA), saying its threat of court action over the controversial book "The President's Keepers" is "incongruous" and "serves no rational purpose".
Representing Pauw and NB Publishers, Willem de Klerk Attorneys has issued a letter stating that the SSA order can neither stop the distribution or withdrawal of the book nor the retraction of any of its content.
This comes after the SSA on Friday issued the publishers with a cease-and-desist letter demanding that the book be withdrawn and parts of it be retracted. The SSA also threatened criminal charges.
"[The SSA's] generalised statement that the book is replete with inaccuracies is not backed up by a single reference to any specific statement in the book that is alleged to be inaccurate. Your demand for a retraction of all those parts which are inaccurate is therefore incongruous," Willem de Klerk Attorneys wrote in the letter.
"It is furthermore unclear how you reconcile an allegation of falsity, on the one hand, with an alleged violation of statutory provisions on the other. Publication of the information contained in the book does not violate the relevant intelligence statutes as you allege."
The law firm maintained the information contained in the book was true and of undeniable public interest.
"There can be no basis for an urgent court application to prevent the further distribution of the book. Your client waited the best part of a week before making its demand, and then set a five-day deadline for response," the firm wrote.
"Any attempt by the State Security Agency to prevent the further dissemination of the book would serve no rational purpose. As you will be aware, courts do not, as a matter of policy, make orders which do not serve a purpose or to which effect cannot be given."
They said if the SSA proceeded with a court application, Pauw and NB Publishers would oppose it.
Meanwhile, the South African Revenue Service has said it is also seeking legal advice on possible criminal and civil investigations into Pauw and the Sunday Times, the newspaper in which excerpts from "The President's Keepers" were published exclusively, for allegedly "unlawfully" disclosing "confidential taxpayer information".