Retired SAPS brigadier Jap Burger on Wednesday made the startling claim that the private intelligence gathering probing corruption at Eskom was to be used as “psychological warfare” in support of former CEO Andre de Ruyter.
Burger made the claim when he appeared before an inquiry by the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) after he turned down three requests to voluntarily appear before the committee.
He was accompanied by a legal representative who sat by his side throughout his testimony when he was quizzed by the MPs.
Burger told Scopa that he never saw the purported intelligence report apparently produced by George Fivaz Forensic and Risk, aside from operational reports discussed during briefings on their privately funded investigation.
“They gave operational reports that I could not validate at that stage. My concern (was) they came from a perspective that they will use psychological warfare to support Mr de Ruyter,” he said.
Burger likened the “psychological warfare” to the erstwhile Strategic Communication operations, also known as StratCom, that were used by apartheid police.
“It was what was used in the past as Stratcom to spin substance of information to create perceptions ... It muddies the waters, especially when they put it out as their mission.
“That becomes troublesome when dealing with evidence,” he said.
Burger told Scopa that he had passed on the information from the operational reports to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation investigating team working on Eskom and the team assembled by SAPS commissioner Fannie Masemola at Eskom headquarters.
“We looked at it. We could not validate it.”
Burger also said they had agreed to have a comprehensive approach and to be careful as the private intelligence investigation was “done in parallel with intelligence service, which again is a risk”.
Burger said the information from the operational reports on intelligence gathering was not about financial irregularities.
“Most of the information was about criminality, organised crime around Eskom. I don’t recall. I don’t recall financial irregularities.”
He also said he had shared some of the information he received with the State Security Agency for validation, but the agency had not shown an interest.
Burger said they had proposed that a task team be established from various stakeholders but that was never done.
Pressed if he had received the “intelligence report”, Burger said he insisted that he did not know if a report was produced and that he had not seen it.
“The whole notion of a report, I don’t know about a report. There was operational information exchange with me. There might be another report I was not privy to,” he said.
Burger said De Ruyter never gave him an intelligence report.
“I attended meetings with Andre de Ruyter and Fivaz Group during which information was shared. It did not go via Mr de Ruyter.”
Burger told Scopa that the only report he received was on Eskom security from the entity head of security.
He told Scopa how he was roped in to meet with De Ruyter over Eskom corruption amid a planned contracting of a retired general to spearhead an investigation, which, ultimately, did not materialise.
Earlier, Burger began his testimony by apologising for his refusal to appear before the committee. He asserted that he had been misrepresented by Masemola during one of the Scopa meetings regarding his reasons for not wanting to attend.
“I was not in a position of arrogance but I am working in a contaminated space,” he said.
Burger also listed some of his frustrations in the anti-corruption work within in the SAPS.
“We had difficulties within structures doing operational work continuously closed and not being supported,” he said.
Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said had they spoken to Burger first during their inquiry, there would be far more clarity on Eskom matters.
"Our outlook has been enriched as you were active player in operation in response to what was happening. You provided clarity we needed to take forward with necessary persons,” Hlengwa said.
He also said they needed to conclude the inquiry and that there was another meeting scheduled with SAPS top brass.
“We have arrived at tail end at what has been a long process since April,” Hlengwa added.