Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba's ‘double life as a spy’
Letsatsi-Duba, an ANC national executive committee member, allegedly spied on her fellow cadres between 2005 and up until recently.
It’s been almost a month since Independent Media sent Letsatsi-Duba detailed questions about her alleged role as a paid spy, millions of rand she earned, and the purchasing of luxury vehicles, but she has failed to respond.
Through her spokesperson, Lebohang Mafokosi, the minister initially requested a seven-day extension, saying she needed more time to respond since the questions were too detailed and the matter “complex”.
After an extension was granted, Mafokosi requested a second one, which was also granted. However, she eventually failed to respond.
“We kindly request another extension until the close of business on Friday, April 26, 2019. We’re busy processing your request but have not been able to secure all the necessary documents for the response.”
Shortly after receiving the questions last month, Letsatsi-Duba is alleged to have confided in three close confidantes that she was indeed a spy, and blamed former State Security Agency (SSA) director-general Arthur Fraser for leaking the information.
“She volunteered this information in strict confidence because she wanted us to be on her side whenever the story was published,” said one of those allegedly briefed.
The minister’s alleged spying activities were reportedly conducted through a front company called Motse Pele Security, of which she was one of the directors until her resignation recently.
Polokwane-based Motse Pele is a family-owned company Letsatsi-Duba co-founded with her late husband, businessman Mose Jacob Duba, in January 1996.
Four independent sources - two senior SSA officials, a former SSA official and a senior ANC politician - said the SSA used Motse Pele to buy a string of luxury cars, rent safe houses here and abroad and to channel funds to Letsatsi-Duba.
They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation.
Independent Media has seen records of at least 11 luxury vehicles bought for Motse Pele by the SSA including registration numbers and registration dates dating back to 2005. The list includes a Mercedes-Benz ML AMG, a Mercedes-Benz ML and a Mercedes-Benz C200.
Letsatsi-Duba is a director of more than 10 companies, including Honeymoon Lodge in Polokwane, which sources claimed was one of the front companies used for her spying activities.
The sources added that one of the minister’s handlers was Thulani Dlomo, the SSA’s former deputy director-general for counterintelligence in its domestic branch.
Dlomo headed the agency’s special operations unit between 2012 and April 2017.
Dlomo refused to comment.
A one-time ally of former president Jacob Zuma, Letsatsi-Duba was elected ANC treasurer in Limpopo 2008. She served as Agriculture MEC between 2009 and 2014, earning more than R1 million per year. Sources said during this period Letsatsi-Duba also raked in millions as a spy.
The minister allegedly received her SSA salary in cash, while operational costs were paid directly into Motse Pele’s account.
“The money for these cars was often disguised as payment for bulk fuel SSA was buying for its fleet from an unnamed filling station based in Polokwane. Can you imagine an agency based in Pretoria buying fuel in Limpopo as if there are no filling stations in Gauteng?” said a senior SSA official.
He added that Motse Pele was in possession of the agency’s cars until late last year when a whistle-blower told President Cyril Ramaphosa’s High Level Review Panel (HLRP) about it.
Letsatsi-Duba then secretly returned the cars to the SSA.
Another senior SSA official accused the panel, chaired by former Safety and Security minister Sydney Mufamadi, of failing to disclose information about Letsatsi-Duba’s alleged spying activity in its report.
This came as Fraser this week released a 78-page response to the HLRP in which he accused its report of misleading Ramaphosa.
Fraser’s response alleged that during his tenure as the country’s spy boss he suspended various SSA members for espionage, fraud and unauthorised expenditure to the tune of R200m but they had since been reinstated.
Fraser declined to comment on Letsatsi-Duba’s alleged spying activities.
His lawyer, Rapulane Kgoroeadira, said: “My client declines to make any comment about the matter because of the nature of his job and (his) then position.”
Mufamadi’s panel was set up to probe allegations of corruption and maladministration within the agency.
On Saturday, Mufamadi said: “I would prefer that we don’t discuss these things. We cannot confirm or deny people’s speculations. The panel was not looking at everything and anything that people were doing.”
A former senior SSA official said Letsatsi-Duba was also used to spy on her fellow ANC cadres ahead of the party’s watershed Polokwane conference in 2007.
The conference elected Zuma as party leader. He defeated former president Thabo Mbeki.
“One of the highlights of Dipuo’s spying activities, known to many of us, was how she infiltrated the ANC conference in Polokwane in 2007 and millions of rands were spent on that project, and she was rewarded handsomely for a job well done,” said the former SSA official.
A second senior SSA official claimed that within days of Letsatsi-Duba being appointed deputy minister of Public Service and Administration in March 2017, she approached Fraser and demanded millions in outstanding payments for her work as a spy.
“Arthur agreed to pay a certain portion of the money and refused (to pay) the rest. The minister didn’t take it kindly. Arthur was later removed as the DG shortly after she was appointed as State Security minister in February last year, for refusing to pay her, amongst other things, and we aren’t sure whether she was paid the rest of the money she claimed she was owed,” the source said.
The former SSA official claimed that the agency had over the years used Letsatsi-Duba’s private companies to rent safe houses in several countries, including Mauritius.
He added that former State Security minister David Mahlobo terminated Letsatsi-Duba’s contract in March 2017. “He was asked to authorise one of the payments that was meant for her and he threw his toys (out of the cot) and instructed that her contract with the agency be terminated with immediate effect.”
Mahlobo declined to comment.
Limpopo government spokesperson Kenny Mathivha said it could not trace records of Letsatsi-Duba’s financial declaration. Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, failed to respond to questions about the minister’s alleged spying activities.