South Africa

DAYS OF ZONDO

Inquiry hears how Minister Dlodlo and her spooks gagged inquiry that may have stopped the July violence

President Cyril Ramaphosa during his second appearance at the Zondo Commission on 12 August 2021. (Photo: Elmond Jiyane)

President Cyril Ramaphosa giggled nervously at times when he faced the toughest questions yet as the Commission brought the big questions on the final day of substantive testimony.

State Capture Inquiry evidence leader Paul Pretorius revealed that an inquiry called Operation Veza into former President Jacob Zuma’s private intelligence armed unit was allegedly gagged by the former State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and the retired head of domestic intelligence Mahlodi Sam Muofhe in March this year. 

That unit was led by spymaster Thulani Dlomo who turned himself in and was quickly released after reports that he was wanted as an instigator of the July violence in which 337 people lost their lives. 

Former State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Moeletsi Mabe)

Pretorius’s revelation shows why Ramaphosa did not renew Muofhe’s contract at the end of July, why Dlodlo was moved, and Ramaphosa placed state Security under the Presidency in last week’s cabinet reshuffle.  

Ramaphosa is testifying for a second day and in the denouement of substantive testimony before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.  The Commission has sat for three years at the cost of almost R1-billion.  The chairperson Judge Raymond Zondo has said that his report will be released at the end of September. 

Pretorius revealed that a Special Investigating Unit investigation of the parallel intelligence agency called the Principal Agent Network had been stopped by Zuma in 2011. The former State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele had gagged that probe, and 10 years later, his successor Dlodlo stopped another investigation into the corruption of the intelligence services, the Commission heard.  

President Cyril Ramaphosa on his second-day appearance before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture and Corruption in his capacity as the President and former Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa on 12 August 2021. (Photo: Elmond Jiyane)

“An efficient, lawful and capable SSA doing its allotted tasks during the state capture years may have made a big difference to what happened,” said Pretorius.  

“It happened as (did) many other wrong things, inexplicable things.  Our task now as we move forward is to deal with all the things that went wrong,” said Ramaphosa as he giggled. “We must admit it was an agency compromised and operating under the milieu of state capture,” he said.  

The president’s giggles, whether through nervous tic or otherwise, as he was asked serious questions of his and his party’s culpability for the period of state capture was inopportune.

Pretorius revealed that Witness K, who had testified about the parallel spy network in March, said internal investigations had been “hampered and sabotaged”. “Ms K talks of executive overreach and under the auspices of Ms Dlodlo, the reinstatement of many of those implicated in wrongdoing,” said Pretorius. Intelligence agents gave in-camera evidence of dirty ops by the parallel agency and the State Security Agency as Marianne Thamm reported here.   

“What happens after that (is that) Operation Veza was stopped. Ms K and Ms Y, who were responsible for the collation of this evidence (and who gave evidence to the Commission in January), were taken off their jobs.  Advocate Muofhe was tasked with continuing the investigation.  (But) Muofhe put all the evidence and documentation under lock and key.  There was talk of getting a private firm of attorneys to continue the work under the direction of the previous minister (Dlodlo) and Advocate Muofhe,” said Pretorius. 

To which Ramaphosa replied, “It might seem like the process has been stopped or scuttled, but all these things will come to light.”

Pretorius said that the evidence which Muofhe had locked away included documents showing how arms and state funds had been spirited out of state intelligence into private hands. “Is that relevant to what happened in July (the riots and looting which are likely to take R50-billion out of the economy in 2021 with the loss of 337 lives and 150,000 jobs)? Anyone with an enquiring mind would raise these questions,” said Pretorius.  

Dlodlo did not renew the contract of the former acting director-general of the SSA Loyiso Jafta who blew the whistle on rampant corruption of intelligence, which he told the Commission had cost the state R9-billion.  He also revealed here how this money was abused as well as how an R2.5-million monthly cash allowance had been paid to Zuma via cash ordered by former State Security Minister David Mahlobo.   

Pretorius asked Ramaphosa why Jafta had been “taken off the beat,” The president replied that “Mr Jafta was an acting DG whose acting period had been renewed several times.”

The evidence leader was having none of it. “That this (Jafta’s removal) was done in the normal course of business does not accord with our view. Ms K fears that Operation Veza was shut. For Minister Dlodlo to say publicly (as she did) that this (the revelations of the creation of a private intelligence operation for Zuma, the theft of billions of Rands, the loss of arms and money) is all fake news is rather alarming,” said Pretorius.  

He then revealed that after Jafta authorised that all the documents relevant to Operation Veza be released to the Investigating Directorate headed by Hermione Cronje, Dlodlo and Muofhe had refused to do so. The Investigating Directorate is responsible for all state capture prosecutions, and it subpoenaed the documents. News24 reported on a stand-off between the ID at the SSA headquarters, Musanda, in March 2021, when Muofhe’s agents refused to hand over the document and played tough tackle. The Inspector-General of Dlodlo also refused intelligence (IGI) access to the documents.  

“The lack of proper coordination and discussion got in the way of the documents being made available when they should have been. The documents are still under lock and key.  There was a time I was concerned the documents had been destroyed or shredded,” said Ramaphosa. He added, “Those taken off the job (like Jafta and Miss K) have to be able to carry on the work. The reason for their removal is not cogent.”

Advocate Paul Pretorius ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s testifying at the state capture of inquiry into allegations of state capture.Photo:Felix Dlangamandla/Daily Maverick

But Pretorius did not let Ramaphosa get away with this acknowledgement and a vague promise of “that is something we have to follow through.” He drew a straight line from the gagging of the investigation and its frustration by Dlodlo and Muofhe to the violent looting and riots in July.

“The importance of these events came to the fore in July. I am drawing no conclusions but putting forward propositions. Under lock and key in July were the lists of the operatives, the arms details…It would be unfortunate if those activities had a role in the events of July. It’s not an unreasonable proposition, is it?” he asked.

“It is a proposition, not unreasonable, and it is part of the investigation underway. It is about security for the people of our country. There was a lapse, and we need to investigate how it happened and how it manifested itself,” said Ramaphosa.  

On its final day of hearings, the Commission of Inquiry drew a line between state capture and how it had impacted the country’s national security in July.

Testimony continues. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Sandra Goldberg says:

    “There was a lapse” that is how Ramaphosa encapsulates the July “insurrection” . Need we continue?

  • Jamie WHITELAW says:

    Ramaphosa has been in power long enough to clean up the SSA and has clearly not done so. In any western
    country this alone this would be grounds for him to resign in disgrace, but right now he is probably our best
    bet to improve our dreadful general situation!!!

  • John Gosling says:

    “A lapse” or a collapse?

  • Phil Evans says:

    “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil.” (Thomas Paine) Where does that put this government?

  • Phil Evans says:

    “In its worst state, an intolerable one.”

  • JOHN TOWNSEND says:

    The childish giggling by Ramaphosa – and also Zondo- I thought was a disgrace. This did not happen on one occasion, but was a regular occurence. Listening to this behavior. I had to ask myself how seriously Ramaphosa
    took his appearance at the commision. as for Zondo… not impressed.

  • Laurence Erasmus says:

    Reading between the lines it seems that Cyril failed to lead a clean up of the intelligence services which gave us the July insurrection! Proudly delivered to you by the ANC. You go Cyril!

  • Brian Cotter says:

    My read is that Dlodlo (ANC) is directly responsible for the R50 billion damages from the riots. Why was she still there in that position? Dodlo was one these people that mysteriously found herself having a massage at a five star hotel in Dubai all paid for by the famous Guptas.

  • Nick Griffon says:

    So the question begs, why is this woman not charged with treason yet?
    Shew should be dumped in a dark cell and be forgotten about. Never to hear from again. never see daylight again.

  • Carol Green says:

    Why is Dlodlo still a minister?? Why has Mapisa-Nqakula been chosen by the ANC as the new Speaker in parliament?? Does Cyril really think we can believe what he says when these things are still happening??

  • Rainer Thiel says:

    To which Ramaphosa replied, “It might seem like the process has been stopped or scuttled, but all these things will come to light.”

    Yeah, right… rotfl

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