Jacques Pauw

Jacques, named by Nelson Mandela as one of South Africa’s greatest journalists, Jacques Pauw has worked as a reporter, television documentary producer, commentator and columnist for more than 30 years.

Most recently, he is the author of the best-selling The President’s Keepers: Those who keep Zuma in power and out of prison. The book, published in October 2017, has been widely hailed as the most important book published in post-apartheid South Africa and is the biggest selling book in South African history.

Jacques has twice been named as CNN’s African Journalist of the Year, has won the Daniel Pearl award in the United States for the world’s best cross-border investigative journalism, Italy’s Ilaria Alpi, South Africa’s Journalist of the Year Award and was the recipient of the Nat Nakasa Award for bravery and integrity in journalism. In 2018, he received the Ahmed Kathrada excellence in leadership award, the Namibian Editor’s Forum scroll of honour and was South Africa’s corruption fighter of the year.

Jacques and Max du Preez were in 1988 the co-founders of the Afrikaans anti-apartheid newspaper Vrye Weekblad (Free Weekly). The newspaper became the most persecuted and prosecuted newspapers in South African history. Jacques exposed the existence of police death squads in November 1989.

He was also the head of investigations at The Star and Sunday Star newspapers and co-founded the Truth Commission Special Report for the SABC in 1996.

He became the head of Special Assignment, the premier current affairs show of the SABC, in 1999. It was for most of the 2000’s an award-winning and highly respected current affairs programme. Jacques produced a host of current affairs documentaries throughout the African continent. Amongst them were exposés on drug smuggling, the international trafficking of women and children, child labour, child soldiers and blood diamonds.

Jacques Pauw has also produced documentaries on the genocide in Rwanda, the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea and civil conflicts in Sierra Leone, Sudan, Burundi, Zaire (today DRC), Algeria, Liberia and Angola.  

Jacques resigned in protest from Special Assignment in September 2007 after a series of political appointments at the national broadcaster.

He was the Director of the Justice Project in the Department of Journalism at Wits University in 2009 before becoming the head of investigations at Media24 newspapers, the biggest newspaper group in South Africa.

He left Media24 at the end of 2014 to pursue freelance writing. He also owns a restaurant, bar and guesthouse in the Western Cape village of Riebeek Kasteel.

He is the author of six books, of which three have been shortlisted for major literary awards. In 2018, The President’s Keepers won two literary awards.

Jacques has through his long journalism career gained an inside knowledge of South African current affairs and has regular interactions with high-level politicians and decision-makers. He has contacts in both the highest echelons and lower echelons of the law-enforcements agencies, which has enabled him to write The President’s Keepers.

Whether he gives you his unique view of our country and its future or the realities and challenges facing our new president, his talks are speckled with unique personal experiences on journeys that have taken him from Africa’s most notorious warmongers and genocide and into the heart of South Africa’s death squads and the murky world of intelligence.

A columnist for a Sunday newspaper once wrote that if journalists were the ‘nagkardrywers’ (sewage car drivers) of society, Jacques is grubbier than any of them.

His talks centres around his personal experiences in writing The President’s Keepers, how Jacob Zuma hollowed out and destroyed the law enforcement agencies, the state of justice in the country and the challenges facing Cyril Ramaphosa.

In January 2019 – 25 years after Vrye Weekblad was forced to close its doors as a result of persistent government action – Jacques Pauw and Max du Preez once again joined forces to revive one of the country’s most famous publications.

VryeWeeblad.com will be published by Tiso Blackstar from March 2019.

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