While he would have preferred to “die with his secrets”, Arthur Fraser’s legal representative, Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that the former State Security Agency head was being forced into the open as he had been accused of “treason”.
Sikhakhane represented Fraser as well as former National Intelligence Agency Director General, Manala Manzini at the Zondo Commission hearings on Monday, 20 July 2020.
Fraser’s evidence, Sikhakhane said, “will complete the picture for the chair about secrets of this state, about who exactly is subverting our state”.
“He [Fraser] would have to complete this to do something he reluctantly does. To tell the chair about things that related to the President, or the presidents of this country, past and present. That relates to the judges. That relates to parliamentarians.”
While Sikhakhane said he had tried to discourage Fraser who would be breaking his “oath” of secrecy, the former SSA DG was the only “implicated person” accused of treason.
Sikhakhane also requested that Fraser and Manzini be indemnified from arrest and criminal prosecution, something which Zondo said the commission was not empowered to do.
In November 2019, Gibson Njenje, former head of domestic intelligence, and Mo Shaik, former head of foreign intelligence, offered devastating evidence to the commission that former president Jacob Zuma had, in 2011, personally shut down investigations into the Gupta family as well as into the State Security Agency itself.
Njenje testified about being tasked in 2009 by then Minister of State Security, Siyabonga Cwele, with investigating corruption in the SSA, where Fraser was the DG.
What he found, said Njenje, was fraud and corruption amounting to around R600-million and involving Fraser’s Principal Agent Network (PAN).
On Monday Sikhakhane informed the Commission that neither Fraser nor Manzini had received their Section 303 notices to respond to the allegations by Njenje. Nor had they received notice after the testimony of the former head of the SSA, Jeff Maqetuka to the commission on 12 July 2020.
Those notices that had been sent, went to a number belonging to a family member of Fraser.
Fraser and Manzini were given time by the commission to respond to allegations, file affidavits or apply for condonation if required.
Fraser would come to the Zondo Commission to “complete your picture of this thing called State Capture”, Sikhakhane promised.
From an “intelligence point of view” however, these were not matters that “should be at a place like this” said Sikhakhane.
Sikhakhane also argued that the commission should “indemnify” Fraser and Manzini for breaching the “oath” they took as intelligence officers as Njene, Shaik and others who had testified had done so.
“We assume that simply because the other three former leaders have testified and laid bare things that relate to security, my clients are indemnified from breaching that oath,” Sikakhane told Zondo.
When Fraser testified about PAN, Sikakhane added, its legitimacy to the intelligence service would be made visible and that he would “access secrets that he otherwise should not share. Because others have been allowed he is indemnified from doing so”.
Fraser, said Sikhakhane, assumed “he won’t be arrested for sharing those secrets with the chair”.DM