08/11/2017 16:52 SAST | Updated 08/11/2017 16:52 SAST

The President’s Keepers: South Africa's Fastest-Selling Book Ever

Attempts by SARS and the SSA to bury Jacques Pauw's revelations about the extent of state capture have backfired spectacularly.

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A staff member of Exclusive Books at Gateway Mall in Durban sets up a shelf of 'The President's Keepers', written by investigative journalist and author Jacques Pauw.

Jacques Pauw's bombshell nonfiction thriller "The President's Keepers" has become South Africa's best seller since research outfit Nielsen started measuring our book sales in 2004.

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The book, which officially only launches on Wednesday evening, has sold out of its first print run of 40,000 copies, and the new run of 30,000 is largely pre-sold, said Erika Oosthuizen, the nonfiction publisher at NB Publishers.

Because it takes six weeks to print and bind new books, "we had to kick other titles off the printers," Oosthuizen admitted. Printers worked flat-out last weekend to deliver the new run of books by the official launches, which start in Johannesburg tonight.

The book — or rather Pauw and NB — face defamation claims by the South African Revenue Service (SARS), and also a cease and desist order from the State Security Agency (SSA).

The President's Keepers blows the lid off President Jacob Zuma's dodgy personal tax affairs, as well as the fact that he moonlighted for Durban private security billionaire Roy Moodley at a fee of R1-million a month for the first period of his presidency.

It also details how the SSA — under its recently appointed boss, Arthur Fraser, and his fellow spooks — blew billions from an intelligence slush fund by living the high life and employing family members.

Oosthuizen told HuffPost SA that the first 20,000 copies were sold a day after the Sunday Times published an extract called "Gangster Republic" on its front page. Last Friday's threats by SARS and the SSA impelled South Africans to go out and buy the book to support the author.

"South Africans are so gatvol. People feel disempowered and want to do something, even if that something is buying a book. The book has become a way of saying no to Zuma," said Oosthuizen.

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The President's Keepers is a fascinating, if scary read that traverses the globe from Russia to Riebeek Kasteel, the little Western Cape town where the author and award-winning Pauw lives and works as a chef. It exposes the concentric circles of gangsters who have come to infiltrate South Africa's polity and, allegedly, its president's inner circle.

The book is being reviewed and featured in global media from the Guardian to the Financial Times. The action against it has provoked solidarity from civil society both locally and globally.