Max du Preez

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Max du Preez (born 3 March 1951) is a South African author, columnist and documentary filmmaker and was the founding editor of Vrye Weekblad.


Du Preez was (from the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s) chief political correspondent for the Nasionale Pers group of newspapers, primarily working for Beeld, the Afrikaans daily in Johannesburg. Du Preez reported mainly from the apartheid state's parliament for the Nasionale Pers papers, all supporters of the then ruling National Party. He also reported for Nasionale Pers' papers on whites only by-elections in that time. His reporting then supported the National Party, as required by the papers he worked for. After resigning as a columnist for the ANC supporting Cape Town newspapter The Cape Times in 2014, Du Preez joined the Cape paper Die Burger (owned by Media24, a subsidiary of Naspers - the new name of Nasionale Pers) as a regular columnist. Die Burger is the paper where he started his journalistic career.

Vrye Weekblad[edit]

Du Preez founded Vrye Weekblad, an Afrikaans-language weekly newspaper, in November 1988. During his tenure as editor (funded from Europe), the newspaper's offices were bombed and Du Preez received death threats as a result of the paper's opposition to apartheid.[1]

He was sentenced to six months in jail for quoting Joe Slovo, then leader of the South African Communist Party and a banned person.[2]

Dismissal from the SABC[edit]

In 1999, Du Preez was dismissed by the SABC from his position as the executive editor of Special Assignment, an investigative television show, after he objected when a documentary was barred from being shown. Though initially it was simply stated that his contract would not be renewed, the SABC later said he had been dismissed for gross insubordination.[3]

The decision led to a public campaign to call for his reinstatement[4] and the handling by the SABC led to complaints to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa.[5] The incident was seen as symptomatic of a public broadcaster voluntarily transforming itself into a state propaganda apparatus.[6]

"Womaniser" remark[edit]

Rumours that then-President Thabo Mbeki was a philanderer[7] were controversially brought to light by a comment Du Preez made on a national radio show in 2001. During a discussion on the lack of examination of the private life of Mbeki, Du Preez said: "He is seen as a womaniser. It is publicly known and I think we should start talking about this, that the president has this kind of personal life. I'm not saying it's scandalous. He's a womaniser."[8]

The remark was subsequently carried on the front page of the The Citizen, leading to multiple complaints, apologies[9] and a statement by a provincial branch of the African National Congress that it accepted "declaration of war by Max du Preez and his political masters who have unleashed an unprecedented vitriol against the ANC, its leadership, the President and its supporters."[10]


  • 1991 - Louis M. Lyons Award for conscience and integrity in journalism[11]
  • 1996 - Excellence in Journalism award from the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Southern Africa[12]
  • 2006 - Yale Globalist International Journalist of the Year[13]
  • 2008 - Nat Nakasa Award for fearless reporting[14]

Further reading[edit]

  • Du Preez, Max (2008) [2003]. Pale native: memories of a renegade reporter. Cape Town: Zebra press. ISBN 978-1-86872-913-5. 
  • Du Preez, Max (2008). Of Tricksters, Tyrants and Turncoats. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. ISBN 978-1-77022-043-0. 
  • Du Preez, Max (2005). Oranje, Blanje, Blues: 'n Nostalgiese Trip. Cape Town: Zebra Press. ISBN 978-1-77007-119-3. 
  • Du Preez, Max (2004). Of Warriors, Lovers, and Prophets: Unusual Stories from South Africa's Past. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. ISBN 978-1-86872-901-2. 


  1. ^ Christopher S. Wren (5 July 1990). "Paper is bombed in Johannesburg". New York Times. Retrieved 24 October 2008. 
  2. ^ Christopher S. Wren (26 July 1990). "Johannesburg Journal: For an Afrikaner Weekly, Success Brings Bombs". New York Times. Retrieved 24 October 2008. 
  3. ^ Chris McGreal (19 May 1999). "Sacking casts doubt on TV news". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2008. 
  4. ^ "Calls to re-instate TV's Max du Preez". Daily Dispatch. Retrieved 23 October 2008. 
  5. ^ "Case No: 1999/11 SABC - News Item - Mr Max du Preez". Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa. Retrieved 23 October 2008. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Press release: Max du Preez and the SABC board investigation into editorial independence". Freedom of Expression Institute. Retrieved 23 October 2008. 
  7. ^ Chris McGreal (24 April 2001). "Mbeki in thrall to fear and suspicion". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2008. 
  8. ^ "ANC lashes at Du Preez for Mbeki remarks". Daily Dispatch. Retrieved 23 October 2008. 
  9. ^ "Citizen sorry for Mbeki 'womaniser' story". Independent Online. Retrieved 23 October 2008. 
  10. ^ "Statement: The ANC accepts the declaration of war from Max du Preez and his political masters". Retrieved 23 October 2008. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Nieman Foundation Awards". Retrieved 23 October 2008. 
  12. ^ "SABC'S TRUTH COMMISSION SPECIAL REPORT HONOURED". SAPA. Retrieved 19 November 1996.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  13. ^ "International journalists describe their fight for justice". Yale Bulletin. Retrieved 31 March 2006. 
  14. ^ "Max Du Preez scoops Nat Nakasa Award". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2008. 

External links[edit]