Julius Malema’s letter demanding that the author of The President’s Keepers, Jacques Pauw, withdraw a social media statement that alleged tobacco smuggler Adriano Mazzotti had paid the EFF leader’s R18 million tax bill may have backfired.

The author released a slew of allegations on Friday morning regarding the politician’s alleged links to the tobacco-smuggling underworld.

And when The Citizen attempted repeatedly throughout Friday to get comment – any comment – from Malema’s party, the normally vocal EFF failed to get back to us. Their normal outspokenness on social media was also strangely absent throughout Friday, with nary a response to Pauw from any senior EFF leader, including Malema, by late Friday night.

During a media briefing on Thursday, a confident Malema had said: “I have written a letter to Jacques Pauw to withdraw the statement which he has made out that Mazotti paid my tax. We have never denied as the EFF that Mazotti paid our registration fee in 2014 – that we have never kept a secret.” But he took issue with Pauw’s further speculation.

Yesterday, though, Pauw struck back in a Facebook post detailing how Malema may have benefitted from the proceeds of crime. It also raised further questions about the links between Mazzotti, the EFF, and disgraced Sars Commissioner Tom Moyane, who is currently being represented by EFF national chairperson, advocate Dali Mpofu.

A defiant Pauw yesterday admitted that he was not entirely accurate in saying Malema had received a loan from Mazzotti, but instead of withdrawing his accusation, he dug in deeper, detailing that the loan had in fact come from Mazzotti’s business partner, Kyle Phillips.

“You in fact received a R1 million loan from Kyle Phillips – a business partner of Mazzotti and his co-director in Carnilinx, an independent tobacco company.

“This was reported in the Sunday Times and other newspapers in 2015. The Sunday Times quoted your lawyer as saying that you took the loan from Phillips after another benefactor failed to make a payment to you. The newspaper said that you had admitted to Sars that you had received the R1 million loan from Phillips.”

Mazzotti admits to fraud, money laundering, tobacco smuggling and tax evasion, and even goes as far as admitting to bribing Sars officials, including an attempt at bribing then acting Sars commissioner Ivan Pillay and investigations head Johann van Loggerenberg with R800 000.