df8727b39c1f4a328dd2fabb341f03e3Johannesburg – Former Independent Newspaper columnist Max du Preez will be joining News24, Editor in Chief Andrew Trench said on Thursday.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer a ‘home’ to Max. His reputation for truth, his passion for press freedom and his calibre of journalism make him one of the best, and exactly the kind of unapologetic opinion we want on News24,” he said in a statement.

Du Preez will be writing as a weekly columnist, and his first piece will be published on Tuesday.

Du Preez said he was privileged to have a voice on News24.

“I’m going to do my best to make sure that my conversations with readers on News24 will help stimulate healthy, rigorous debates and contribute to an informed public opinion.

Freedom of democracy

“This is essential if we, the people of South Africa, want to see our freedom and democracy blossom.”

Du Preez resigned from Independent Newspapers after it apologised for an opinion piece in which he criticised President Jacob Zuma.

He made public his resignation letter to Independent Media’s executive editor Karima Brown saying the apology it issued was done to please Zuma and the ANC.

Du Preez in his column made a reference to Zuma’s “corrupt relationship [in the words of a judge] with his financial adviser”.

The presidency said the piece was racist.

It said the remark in question – when Judge Hilary Squires was reported by the media to have said Zuma had a “generally corrupt relationship” with convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik – had already been refuted. In November 2006, Squires wrote to Business Day indicating he never uttered those words.

‘Serious allegations’

The presidency said that neither Independent Newspapers nor Du Preez had given it an opportunity to respond to the “serious allegations” against Zuma.

In the column, Du Preez also offers his analysis of the political machinations he believes are behind the appointment of Tom Moyane as Sars commissioner, and the suspension of Hawks head Anwa Dramat.

Du Preez maintained there was no inaccuracy and therefore no need to apologise.

He later referred to pictures of Brown and Independent’s editor of opinion and analysis Vukani Mde wearing ANC clothing during the party’s anniversary party.

“I suddenly understood why you were swayed to knowingly publish a false ‘correction’ and apologise to the president of the party you have pledged allegiance to on the basis of that falsehood,” Du Preez said at the time.

Independent Media said it had enjoyed a good association with Du Preez and respected his decision to leave. It did not, however, agree with his reasons for leaving.

The Press Ombudsman has since dismissed a complaint against Brown and Mda for wearing ANC attire.