Max du Preez

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Max du Preez
Max du Preez in 2017.
Max du Preez giving a speech in Cape Town at the Barry Streek Memorial lecture in 2017.
Born(1951-03-03)3 March 1951
Kroonstad, Free State, South Africa[1]

Max du Preez (born 10 March 1951) is a South African author, columnist and documentary filmmaker and was the founding editor of Vrye Weekblad. Vrye Weekblad Online or Vrye Weekblad II was launched on 5 April 2019 [2] again with Max du Preez as editor.[3]


Max du Preez is a writer, columnist and documentary filmmaker. Between 1982 and 1988, Du Preez was the Political Correspondent for various publications including Beeld, Financial Mail, Sunday Times and Business Day. He won the Nat Nakasa Award for fearless reporting in 2008.

Vrye Weekblad[edit]

Du Preez founded the Vrye Weekblad, an Afrikaans-language weekly newspaper, in November 1988 and its progressive successor Vrye Weekblad Online in 2019. During his tenure as editor-in-chief, the newspaper's offices were bombed and Du Preez received death threats as a result of the paper's opposition to apartheid.[4]

He was sentenced to six months in jail for quoting Joe Slovo, the then leader of the South African Communist Party and a banned person.[5]

The Vrye Weekblad broke the news of the Vlakplaas Death Squads and the role of its commander, Dirk Coetzee.

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.[6]

The decision led to a public campaign to call for his reinstatement[7] and the handling by the SABC led to complaints to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa.[8] The incident was seen as symptomatic of a public broadcaster voluntarily transforming itself into a state propaganda apparatus.[9]

"Womaniser" remark[edit]

Rumours that then-President Thabo Mbeki was a philanderer[10] 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."[11]

The remark was subsequently carried on the front page of The Citizen, leading to multiple complaints, apologies[12] 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."[13]


  • 1991 - Louis M. Lyons Award for conscience and integrity in journalism[14]
  • 1996 - Excellence in Journalism award from the Foreign Correspondents' Association of Southern Africa[15]
  • 2006 - Yale Globalist International Journalist of the Year[16]
  • 2008 - Nat Nakasa Award for fearless reporting[17]

Further reading[edit]

  • Du Preez, Max (2001). Louis Luyt: Unauthorised. Cape Town: Zebra press. ISBN 978-186872371-3.
  • 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.
  • Du Preez, Max (2009). The world according to Malema. Cape Town: Kwela Books. ISBN 978-0-79570-292-1.
  • Du Preez, Max (2010). Dwars: mymeringe van 'n gebleikte Afrikaan. Cape Town: Zebra Press. ASIN B004WJ4SNU.
  • Du Preez, Max (2011). The Rough Guide to Nelson Mandela. London: Rough Guides. ISBN 978-140538236-6.
  • Du Preez, Max (2013). A Rumour of Spring: South Africa After 20 Years of Democracy. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. ISBN 978-1-77022-543-5.
  • Du Preez, Max (2015). Of Renegades, Romantics and Rabble-Rousers: More Untold Stories from Southern Africa's Past. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. ISBN 978-1-77022-159-8.


  1. ^ "Max du Preez, Hard-Nosed African - Andre Wiesner". Archived from the original on 3 July 2019. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Vrydag 5 April 2019". Vrye Weekblad (in Afrikaans). Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  3. ^ "Vrye Weekblad is back and armed with a power crew". TimesLIVE. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  4. ^ Christopher S. Wren (5 July 1990). "Paper is bombed in Johannesburg". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  5. ^ Christopher S. Wren (26 July 1990). "Johannesburg Journal: For an Afrikaner Weekly, Success Brings Bombs". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
  6. ^ Chris McGreal (19 May 1999). "Sacking casts doubt on TV news". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  7. ^ "Calls to re-instate TV's Max du Preez". Daily Dispatch. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  8. ^ "Case No: 1999/11 SABC - News Item - Mr Max du Preez". Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  9. ^ "Press release: Max du Preez and the SABC board investigation into editorial independence". Freedom of Expression Institute. Archived from the original on 24 September 2006. Retrieved 23 October 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  10. ^ Chris McGreal (24 April 2001). "Mbeki in thrall to fear and suspicion". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  11. ^ "ANC lashes at Du Preez for Mbeki remarks". Daily Dispatch. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  12. ^ "Citizen sorry for Mbeki 'womaniser' story". Independent Online. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  13. ^ "Statement: The ANC accepts the declaration of war from Max du Preez and his political masters". Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  14. ^ "Nieman Foundation Awards". Archived from the original on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  15. ^ "SABC's Truth Commission Special Report Honoured". SAPA.
  16. ^ "International journalists describe their fight for justice". Yale Bulletin. Archived from the original on 18 April 2009. Retrieved 31 March 2006.
  17. ^ "Max Du Preez scoops Nat Nakasa Award". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2008.

External links[edit]