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'I never knew I was being used to spy'


Cliff Saunders, the apartheid-era political correspondent for the SABC, allegedly used Jani Allan to spy on members of the right wing without her knowledge.

Allan made this claim to The Sunday Independent this week and gave as proof print-outs from Saunders' computer that she obtained when she had access to his office.

The spying began when Allan worked in Britain for what she believed to be a news agency where she was employed to conduct research as a journalist.

But she became suspicious when she was not paid on several occasions, and when she was asked to focus solely on the right wing while she believed she was functioning as a legitimate journalist.

One week in 1995, when Saunders was back in South Africa, Allan was able to gain access to computer records of correspondence between him and a paymaster in South Africa.

Until then Saunders had barred access to the records by changing the code every day: "By now I was well aware that reports were being sent in code to South Africa using a code system that was changed personally by Saunders each day."

Late in June, when Saunders was temporarily "incapacitated" and forgot to change the code, Allan was able to break into the files. This revealed not only the true nature of the operation but also how she had been deliberately inveigled into working for Saunders.

When Saunders sued Joe Nhlanhla, the minister of intelligence services, for R100 000 earlier this year for services rendered, Saunders alleged that he and Allan had spied on members of the right wing while they lived in Britain in 1994 and 1995.

Communication between Saunders and his contact in South Africa, which was leaked to The Sunday Independent this week, revealed how Saunders gave accommodation to Allan in his London home. The print-outs, part of a dossier in Allan's possession, also show how Saunders asked for permission to hire Allan on a £900 salary in 1994/5.

Contacted for comment Saunders said: "You know I can't comment." Allan was looking for accommodation and employment after her bruising legal battle with Britain's Channel 4, which she unsuccessfully sued for libel after the television channel alleged she had had sex with Eugene TerreBlanche, the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) leader. Allan lost the case, but in court her private life was splashed all over the media and she was left to pay huge legal bills.

Allan, who now works for a talk radio station in Cape Town, found herself in London without a regular job, and Saunders offered her a job as a researcher and journalist at Newslink International, a news agency.

While Allan thought she was in legitimate employment, she was in fact working for Geofocus SA, a front company whose task was to spy. Groups included the Inkatha Freedom Party, the AWB and right-wing organisations.

But she was not aware of her true role. According to one of the print-outs, Saunders wrote to South Africa: "As far as she is concerned she is simply assisting me with one of my consultancy projects. Once she begins receiving money she is compromised ... and will have to continue. This technique is the wellknown one you guys taught me."

In one print-out, Saunders recommended that Nelson Mandela, who was then president, address right-wing groups " not only from London but from Europe and the US as well. He must be invited by a prominent right-wing group to address them ... I will provide you with the kind of speech he should give. The visit would have to be paid for by the South African government."

The event did not take place. The print-outs show how Saunders attempted to infiltrate the IFP using Allan's friendship with Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the home affairs minister. She was also expected to cultivate a friendship with Dr Mario Ambrosini, Buthelezi's political adviser.


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