Security firms ‘spying on Sekunjalo executives’
By Ayanda Mdluli and Siyavuya Mzantsi
Cape Town - Three bosses of private security companies are alleged to have been at the centre of illegally intercepting communications of senior executives in the Sekunjalo group.
The three, known to Independent Media, are also suspected of having had links with the apartheid security branch, an allegation they have denied.
Sekunjalo has lodged a complaint at the Table Bay Harbour police station after discovering that the cellphones and other devices of the company's executives and some family members of the group's executive chairperson, Dr Iqbal Survé, had been tapped.
Charles Abrahams, a Cape Town lawyer rendering services to the group - which includes companies such as AYO Technology Solutions, Independent Media and African Equity Empowerment Investments Limited - also suspected that his phone calls had been illegally intercepted.
A listening device was also discovered in Dr Survé’s office.
Two of the private companies are Cape Town-based, while one is in Pretoria. Their owners claim to have decades of experience in the police service, with one having served as an officer from 1967 to 2010, when he retired. Another, according to high-ranking sources close to the investigation, was a colonel in the old apartheid security apparatus and regularly reports to a powerful minister and associate of senior politicians.
He also provides regular information to a corporate entity based in Cape Town that is chaired by a former deputy finance minister.
He was tasked with establishing a five-member team to physically follow Dr Survé and members of his family.
He is also alleged to be the one responsible for planting bugs in the offices of Sekunjalo through contractors, according to the source.
Sekunjalo said: “We have been aware for some time that there are powerful individuals using apartheid-era police tactics to do illegal surveillance on our group directors, employees and sub- sidiaries. We have employed a reputable counter-surveillance firm and we have established the identities of the parties involved and handed over information to the police to investigate and bring the culprits to book.”
The director of the Pretoria-based company and the two Cape Town firms emphatically denied being part of the corporate spy scandal.
“There is a legal process for which a judge must give written authorisation to conduct such investigations My company does not, and has not since it was established, ever had any reason to make use of illegal actions such as these.” He said his company conducts criminal investigations on behalf of complainants who are dissatisfied with the SAPS in the handling of their complaints.
The owner of one of the Cape Town private security firms said: “We are not involved in the Sekunjalo situation. If our name is implicated, the investigating officer from SAPS should contact me. My business is small and still new - we do not have the capacity to do what is alleged.”
The other owner of a Cape Town company said he was shocked by the allegations. “I have nothing to do with the allegations. We work strictly on mandates and whatever the company mandates. We investigate crime, fraud, child custody etc. We do debugging and we find listening devices. The allegation that I was involved in or snooping around phone calls is not true because that would be a crime.”