Some top spy bosses are allegedly without security clearance

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Sep 16, 2021

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Cape Town - The Parliamentary committee, that plays an oversight function over the country’s spying agencies, has found that some generals and top managers of the intelligence services were allegedly without security clearance.

This happens as there were still backlogs in the vetting, in virtually all the spying agencies.

The joint standing committee on intelligence (JSCI) made the finding in its latest annual report of the joint committee, which consists of Parliamentarians from both Houses.

The report was compiled after reports were received from the State Security Agency, SAPS crime intelligence, and the judge designate for communications and inspector-general of intelligence.

It said vetting and human resource challenges were identified when the annual reports of the State Security Agency (SSA), military intelligence, and crime intelligence, were scrutinised.

In the report on activities for the year, the JSCI said the SSA reported that there were people still without security clearance.

“The vetting backlog was not only for the SSA members, but also external officials. The ministry was engaging with former members to assist,” the report said.

It also said the committee was informed that lifestyle audits, for all SAPS crime intelligence members, were under way.

“The committee was pleased that lifestyle audits were under way,” the report said.

However, the JSCI wants to be briefed on the outcome of the lifestyle audit and updated regularly.

It also noted concern with the backlog in vetting of personnel within the crime intelligence services.

“Some senior managers were not vetted,” the report said.

It said the vetting backlog should be eradicated.

“Crime Intelligence is to provide a time-frame and report during quarterly reporting.

A similar situation was found at the Defence Intelligence.

The report stated that one of the findings of the Office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence (OIGI) was the backlog on vetting, which showed that the majority of the top management of Defence Intelligence did not have a top secret security clearance.

“There was a vetting backlog and some generals and senior managers were not vetted,” stated the report.

The committee has since urged the Defence Intelligence to ensure that vetting challenges were addressed, and that time-frames be provided and progress be reported quarterly.

The JSCI also said all senior managers for all the spying services should be vetted as a matter of urgency.

“All vetting backlogs are to be eradicated as soon as possible,” the committee said in its report.

The committee said all ministers, playing oversight roles on the agencies, should ensure that the findings and recommendations by OIGI were implemented.

“The JSCI is to be given updates during quarterly reporting by the services. The OIGI was expected to provide regular feedback to the committee on the implementation of recommendations by the ministers and services. The committee is to explore ways of ensuring that recommendations of the OIGI were enforceable,” stated the report.

Equally affected by the backlogs in the vetting of its personnel is the Financial Intelligence Centre.

“The committee requested the SSA to speed up the process of vetting staff of the FIC,” said the report.

Meanwhile, the JSCI said it had been briefed on Project Veza, which found that the SSA was infiltrated by criminal elements during different times.

“Some of the findings of Project Veza included an illegal vetting structure that was established; the presidential support service, which consumed most resources due to extensive travelling, without bringing back any intelligence; and the establishment of a toxicology unit reporting to the then president, to name a few, said the JSCI.”

The report also stated that members of the Project Veza team received threats and that their lives were in danger.

The JSCI recommended that security be provided for those involved in the investigations since threats were made.

“The committee recommended that those implicated in any wrongdoing be reported to law enforcement, for further investigation and prosecution,” said the report, adding that the Project Veza team should report to the committee quarterly.

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Political Bureau

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