The family of State Security Agency director general Arthur Fraser has demanded that author Jacques Pauw retracts his book, The President's Keepers.
The Fraser family is in the process of seeking legal advice. In a statement, the family said Pauw committed the "classic journalistic deception" of not allowing facts to get in the way of a good story.
"In his enthusiasm to influence ruling party politics and the 2019 general election, Pauw has allowed himself to be manipulated by an apartheid spy/ double agent, who has scores to settle – and is now hiding out in Russia.
"This is the man on whom Pauw largely relies for 'evidence' about the Fraser family contained in his book."
Pauw has received a cease and desist letter from the State Security Agency, demanding that he withdraw his book and retract certain parts of it.
Fraser said the book included "a number of scurrilous and patently false allegations about the family, which has a distinguished record in South Africa's struggle for democracy, equality and justice".
The author's allegation that a Fraser sister was married to all-powerful intelligence officer, Graham Engel, is false.
'Hurtful and malicious'
The contention that Barry Fraser was the director of a company and NGO that benefited from an alleged intelligence operation dubbed PAN is untrue.
"The statement that 83-year-old Mrs CF Fraser is a PAN agent would be laughable if it wasn't so hurtful and malicious. These 'facts' and others in the book are in fact lies."
Fraser said with South Africa's political climate "as it is – in a global environment of fake news – journalists have more responsibility than ever to maintain critical distance from their subjects and check their facts before rushing into print.
Failure to do so renders them political pawns." He said the Fraser family supported the principle of a free press, holding government to account and contributing to the fight against corruption and abuses of power and or state resources.
"The principle does not extend to the right to slander people. Pauw has unjustly accused the Fraser family of criminal activity. The family is briefing lawyers this week to set the record straight," he said.
Pauw was not immediately available for comment. However, he previously said that he stood by the allegations contained in his book.