Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

LIVE FEED: State Capture Inquiry - January 27, 2021

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published Jan 27, 2021

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Cape Town - The Zondo commission will continue to hear State Security Agency (SSA) related evidence today.

An unidentified witness is expected to the stand.

Yesterday, the inquiry into allegations of state capture expressed its displeasure at the detention of one of former president Jacob Zuma’s estranged wives by the State Security Agency.

Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said that if erstwhile first lady Nompumelelo Zuma was detained by the SSA against her will, then it would be a serious matter.

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”It would be detention by an organ of state in circumstances where no law allowed the organ of state to detain her. It would be quite serious,” said Justice Zondo.

The country’s second most senior judge was responding to acting SSA director-general Loyiso Jafta’s revelations during his evidence.

Jafta testified that the SSA, which he joined in April 2018, was involved in an investigation of the attempted murder of Zuma, allegedly by MaNtuli.

”Mrs Zuma was put in the custody of the SSA. She was in remand detention without having gone through due process. She was disagreeable to the circumstances in which she found herself,” he said.

On Monday, the director of the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Public Policy and African Studies and former safety and security minister, Dr Sydney Mufamadi, told the commission that part of the “weaponisation” of the intelligence service for partisan and factional purposes included “Project Tin Roof”.

Mufamadi, who chaired a high-level review panel on the SSA appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018, said the investigation into the alleged attempted poisoning of Zuma by MaNtuli included acquiring a safe house for her and seemingly maintaining her, given that Project Tin Roof had a budget of R5.2 million and a monthly withdrawal allowance of R800 000.

He said “Project Accurate/Khusela” saw the agency recruit toxicologists to test Zuma’s food and bedding, and that it had an initial monthly allocation of R500 000, which increased to R1.5m in the 2015/16 financial year.

Mufamadi said the panel did not understand the project to be the SSA’s responsibility.

Earlier yesterday, State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo was unsuccessful in her bid to stop Jafta from giving evidence at the commission, due to national security-related concerns.

Justice Zondo dismissed the bid and allowed Jafta to testify.

Jafta assured the commission that all information contained in his affidavit, the matters he dealt with and the identities of the persons involved were in the public domain.

He said his evidence was limited to narrow issues at this stage as he was conscious of the need to respect matters of national security.

”The director-general is compelled in terms of section 10(4) of the Intelligence Services Act of 2002 to, as far as reasonably practicable, take steps to ensure that national security, intelligence collection methods, sources of information and the identity of members of the agency are protected from unauthorised disclosure,” said Jafta.

Meanwhile, the African News Agency (ANA) has denied Mufamadi’s claims that it received funds from the SSA as part of infiltrating and influencing the media at home and abroad, in order, apparently, to counter bad publicity for the country, Zuma and the agency.

”I can also confirm that in 2016/17 ANA had a contract with the SSA to provide multi-media training for SSA analysts and interns across Africa, and to use its platforms, in particular the African Independent newspaper, to carry positive stories about South Africa and the South African government,” ANA chief executive Vasantha Angamuthu saidyesterday.

Angamuthu said the ANA was “entirely unaware of any sinister motive by the SSA and did not participate in, nor would we have sanctioned, any business outside of our key focus, which is driving growth and development on the African continent using media”.

She said that at the time of entering into an agreement with the SSA, the ANA was not aware of any sinister motives behind the agency’s approach.

”If we were aware of such motives, we would most certainly not have entered into such an agreement,” said Angamuthu, adding that Mufamadi’s claims came as news to her and the ANA team.

Political Bureau

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