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David Mahlobo collected spy agency millions for Jacob Zuma, witness tells Zondo commission

Former intelligence minister David Mahlobo and former president Jacob Zuma Picture: Phill Magakoe/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Former intelligence minister David Mahlobo and former president Jacob Zuma Picture: Phill Magakoe/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Jan 29, 2021


Johannesburg - The Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Thursday heard how former intelligence minister David Mahlobo received millions of rand in cash from the State Security Agency (SSA) that were to be delivered to ex-president Jacob Zuma.

The commission continued hearing explosive evidence by a secret witness only identified “Ms K” relating to the SSA’s spending of millions of rand.

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Ms K maintained that Mahlobo, who is now deputy Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation minister, was directly involved in operations and in handling cash withdrawn for the chief directorate for special operations.

Mahlobo, who also held energy portfolio in Zuma’s Cabinet and is a member of the ANC’s national executive committee, is said to have continuously approved the utilisation of retained earnings to fund operations, despite advice that the retained earnings (or unexpended funds) should be saved and utilised for infrastructure development to develop the SSA’s intelligence capabilities.

Under Mahlobo’s watch, Ms K said, Thulani Dlomo, who is the SSA’s former deputy director-general responsible for counter intelligence and South Africa's erstwhile ambassador to Japan, alongside the agency’s former director-general Sonto Kudjoe initiated and approved Project Mayibuye in January 2015.

The project was renewed and continued after Kudjoe’s departure and Arthur Fraser’s subsequent arrival in September 2016 to replace her.

According to Ms K, the project was set up to provide counter-intelligence support that would enable stepping up state authority and its organs of governance (justice, Parliament, provincial legislatures) against hostile behaviour or radical intent aimed at undermining the rule of law and governance in general.

She said an SSA agent, whose pseudonym is Frank, confirmed that he dropped monthly withdrawals of R2.5m at Mahlobo’s office for onward delivery to Zuma.

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However, Ms K added that Project Veza, of which she is project manager and is probing widespread malfeasance at the SSA, has not found evidence that Zuma indeed received that money.

She said there were attempts to grill Mahlobo about the matter when he was an ordinary MP after Zuma was ousted in February 2018 through engagements with another former state security minister, Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba.

”We crafted letters with certain questions, we asked that via the former minister’s office these be disseminated. It was not just him (Mahlobo), it also included another former minister and other senior officials that had left the organisation. The letter was delivered back to the (Project Veza investigation) team and when he (Mahlobo) was contacted he actually scolded the member of the team,” Ms K said.

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She highlighted that Mahlobo told the “Project Veza” member to inform Letsatsi-Duba that “he will expose her” and that was where the matter ended.

Asked by evidence leader Paul Pretorius whether the money reached Zuma, Ms K said “Project Veza” did not have that capacity to investigate fully.

”Had we engaged him I think we would have tried to establish if indeed he received it. We were going to put these allegations to him,” she said.

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Another SSA agent,whose pseudonym is Lilly, told the “Project Veza” team that these monthly payments amounted to R24m in 2015/16 and increased to R54.1m in 2016/17.

Ms K further testified that Frank, also a pseudonym, received firm instructions from Mahlobo that these amounts must be made available notwithstanding challenges in accessing these funds.

The commission continues today, when Ms K is expected to conclude her evidence.

Political Bureau

Related Topics:

Jacob Zuma