Johannesburg - Former spy boss Mulangi Mphego has dropped a bombshell saying the spy tapes that Mokotedi Mpshe used as reasons to drop corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma cannot be “attributed to the Crime Intelligence”.
Mphego’s claims, which come in the wake of political battles at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), which have seen the icing of national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) Mxolisi Nxasana and the arrest of top official Lawrence Mrwebi this week, could bolster efforts by the DA to have the charges against Zuma reinstated.
The DA’s five-year long legal battle to obtain secret recordings will continue in the Supreme Court of Appeal later this month. The NPA is appealing a high court order compelling it to hand over the spy tapes to the party.
Mpshe, who was acting NDPP at the time, dropped the corruption charges against Zuma after recordings of former prosecuting bosses Bulelani Ngcuka and Leonard McCarthy allegedly suggested there had been political interference in the case. The charges were dropped in 2009 just before the elections, paving the way for Zuma to become president.
Speaking to The Sunday Independent yon Saturday, Mphego said: “The spy tapes Mpshe is referring to cannot be attributed to Crime Intelligence. I listened to all the tapes. I was surprised when I saw Mpshe on TV stating the reasons for dropping the charges.”
Reacting to Mphego’s explosive claims about the spy tapes, Mpshe said he was convinced that the charges against Zuma had to be dropped and “I still stand by my decision”. He said he did not regret dropping the charges against Zuma.
“It does not mean that if you listen to the same thing you will have the same interpretation. He listened to the spy tapes and had his own interpretation and I had my own,” Mpshe said.
He also pointed out that he was not sure if he had listened to the same spy tapes as Mphego. “I was not with him when I listened to them. Neither did I discuss it with him. How do I know we listened to the same tapes?” Mpshe said he got the spy tapes from the National Intelligence Agency. “I listened to the tapes and I left them there. I have no tapes on me, the only tapes I have are for music.”
When Mphego was asked if this meant Mpshe had fabricated the tapes, he said: “Ask Mpshe. What I know is that the tapes that he is referring to are not the tapes I listened to. I’m very firm on that.”
But Mphego challenged Mpshe to produce the tapes that he listened to. “I’m an operative, I don’t know what Mpshe was talking about. They can’t be the same tapes.
“I listened to Mpshe on TV and I was shocked because I could not reconcile what he was saying with what I knew. That cannot be attributable to Crime Intelligence. Remember, I was head of Crime Intelligence at the time,” Mphego said.
Mphego was forced to resign after he was charged for interfering with state witnesses in the corruption case against former national commissioner Jackie Selebi. The case of defeating the ends of justice against Mphego was struck off the roll.
DA federal executive chairman James Selfe said Mphego’s statement was an extraordinary development. “This will put an entirely different perspective on the case that we are bringing against the NPA on the 15th of August.
“If we win that case, which we expect we will and get the spy tapes, we would have to interrogate whether they are in fact authentic,” he said.
Selfe said the DA had always believed that this matter needed to be pursued. “It’s a very critical principle, if a person can have prosecution stopped for political reasons, then the role of law is fatally undermined. “Therefore what we are trying to establish is that the decision to discontinue the prosecution against Zuma was not rational and needs to be set aside,” he said.
The NPA’s spokesman Nathi Mncube declined to comment, saying the matter was sub judice.