Things really heated up in local radio station 702's studio on Tuesday morning, when Jacques Pauw, author of the controversial book "The President's Keepers" laid into former Sunday Times journalist Stephan Hofstatter for not checking his sources while researching the so-called "rogue unit" within the South African Revenue Service (SARS) that implicated Pravin Gordhan, SARS commissioner at the time.
The rogue unit was later found to be bogus, and then in December last year, the Press Ombudsman ordered the newspaper to retract all the "SARS rogue unit" stories and apologise to Gordhan.
Hofstatter joined Pauw in studio during an interview with Eusebius McKaiser, as "The President's Keepers" makes reference to the SARS rogue unit saga.
Hofstatter defended himself by claiming he didn't have sufficient time to check his sources. He also noted that he was one of a team covering the story, which was based on a series of damning memos and documents alleging activities such as running a brothel and spying on top cops and politicians. "I want to make it clear on the SARS story that I was not the lead writer," he said. "So there are areas I am not personally involved in."
Pauw then chastised Hofstatter for not taking responsibility for his actions.
"I find it absolutely outrageous that a journalist can have his name in a story and not take responsibility for it. You shared the byline, you shared the glory," Pauw exclaimed.
Hofstatter shot back: "I would have liked to be more responsible, more rigorous and add more context at the time. The newspaper apologised for the mistake, but I was not the lead writer."