Silence in the spook house: DA wants intelligence watchdog to take a peek

By Carien Du Plessis 16 September 2011

It’s been a week since stories emerged about the resignation or not of some of South Africa’s top spies and the alleged interrogation of ANC Youth League members, and all has gone quiet in the spook house. Now the DA has asked the intelligence watchdog to investigate. CARIEN DU PLESSIS reports.

Less than a week ago State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele and his spokesman, Brian Dube, were so sure that State Security Agency boss Gibson Njenje had resigned that they issued a statement about it.

Njenje denied it, and then stories surfaced that he was being pushed to resign. A day or two later, Dube said the ministry would issue yet another statement to clarify but since then, all had gone quiet. On Thursday Dube said there was no news.

It’s been reported that various issues are at the heart of the apparent fight within the country’s spook house. The first is allegations of the abuse of the agency’s security services to protect Cwele’s now ex-wife Sheryl during her drug-trafficking trial (she was given 12 years).

The second is the apparent use of the intelligence services to fight internal ANC battles, following allegations by the ANC Youth League that their members had been interrogated by intelligence agents. There are also allegations that the League had been fed information by the agency, and fingers have pointed to Njenje.

DA Parliamentary leader Athol Trollip on Thursday said in a statement that he had written to the Inspector General of Intelligence, advocate Faith Radebe, to ask for an investigation on these issues.

This came after he wrote to Cwele earlier this week, but had no response. Cwele had also not appeared before the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence in Parliament to report on the impasse.

“The intelligence services must be used to protect the security of the South African people, not the interests of political factions. It is of national importance that the Inspector General investigates those allegations which suggest that this is not currently the case,” Trollip said. DM


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