Foreign intelligence actors could affect state’s ability to govern, says Mahlobo
Johannesburg - Former State Security minister David Mahlobo, who took the stand at the State Capture Commission on Friday, was very guarded in his responses, often claiming he was being coaxed into “indirectly” revealing information he was not allowed to.
He also told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that there were many agencies across the world watching his testimony, able to observe his demeanour, including his breathing.
“South Africa is very strategic in terms of its location and influence and resources,” he said.
Mahlobo said that there were negative foreign intelligence actors that could negatively affect the state’s ability to govern.
“Nobody is immune from being recruited. They can recruit a president, a minister, a judge. They can recruit as long as they know what kind of information they need,” he said.
Mahlobo took the stand after the commission took a nearly two-week-long break.
After numerous technical difficulties earlier in his testimony, which Mahlobo conducted via video from his home in Pretoria, Zondo requested Mahlobo attend proceedings in person and adjourned the session for an hour.
On his arrival at the hearing, evidence leader Paul Pretorius pressed Mahlobo about his knowledge of a covert Principal Agent Network (PAN1) at the State Security Agency (SSA).
Mahlobo said he read about it in the media but Pretorius said that the commission’s investigators found PAN1 to have been treated in an internally investigated report by the agency.
When asked if he was briefed on the report, Mahlobo said he received a report that had recommendations for remedial actions. He instructed the accounting officer at that time to act on these recommendations.
He added that they also briefed the Parliamentary joint standing committee on intelligence.
Mahlobo was hesitant to answer and reveal too many details about the report as it had not yet been declassified.
Mahlobo said that certain aspects of the remedial actions were implemented and “it was an ongoing process”.
“Actions were taken, reports compiled but certain people were not happy,” he said.
After a ping-pong process on what he could and could not say, attention was brought back to his statement that he found a department beset by political interference.
The commission would resume shortly when evidence is expected to be directed at the funding of operations at the SSA.