Cape Town - State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele has denied that he stopped a probe into the Gupta family’s alleged undue influence on government officials.
But he insisted he had a duty to stop “illegal” investigations.
Cwele said it was his job to ensure intelligence resources were not abused to fight “personal and business battles”.
Addressing the media before his budget vote in Parliament on Tuesday, Cwele said the government had completed its internal probe into the illegal landing of a Gupta plane at the Waterkloof Air Force Base.
A report compiled by the six directors-general would be handed over to the relevant ministers for release when they were ready to discuss its contents, he said.
“What is left now is to (give a presentation) to ministers on how to handle it. This is the action from government on that regard. As (the security) cluster we will call you at some stage,” said Cwele.
While he denied allegations that he had intervened to protect the Guptas from a probe by intelligence officers in 2010, he made it clear his department would not allow investigations that were aimed at fighting personal and business battles.
The minister allegedly intervened after intelligence bosses probed the family, and deemed them to be a threat to national security.
“Did I stop the Gupta influence (on) government investigation? I can say categorically, ‘No’. I’m not aware of such an investigation. But, as the minister responsible, what I also stop is the abuse of our intelligence capacity because we’re supposed to control it,” said Cwele.
He said his department would not allow, “for any particular reason”, the use of “our platforms and capabilities to fight personal or individual battles, particularly business battles”.
“I can assure you we don’t stop legal investigations, but we always stop illegal investigations, including illegal tapping of individuals, irrespective of whether they are journalists (or) ministers. I’ll even stop it even if it’s against me,” said Cwele.
Intelligence forces had the responsibility to act against those involved in illegal investigations, he said.
“Fortunately, in our system, particularly the way we have structured our counterintelligence, it is through the very same structures that we get some reports about our own officials who get involved in such activities. We have got a system which sort of warns us if there’s something,” said Cwele.
His remarks followed reports that said the heads of three intelligence units resigned two years ago after they warned him that the Guptas posed a threat to national security and the credibility of the state. According to an online publication, the minister forced Gibson Njenje, Moe Shaik and Jeff Maqetuka out.
DA defence spokesman David Maynier said last week that, if it was true that Cwele intervened, “then it would be very difficult to conclude that he intervened for any reason other than to protect (Zuma)”.
Maynier’s remarks came at the height of public outrage over the landing at Waterkloof – a national key point – of a civilian plane carrying the Guptas’ wedding guests.
Cwele said the report on the so-called “Guptagate” would be handed over to the ministers responsible for the six affected departments for release when they are ready. The team was appointed last week and was given seven days to report back. - Political Bureau