State Security Agency, DA clash over intelligence reports into July unrest
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Pretoria - The State Security Agency on Wednesday said it turned down the Democratic Alliance request to make public the intelligence report relating to the extensive unrest in July which engulfed provinces of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
The opposition party had asked the intelligence operatives to hand over the report which then State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo had claimed to have handed over to law enforcement officials ahead of the massive violence and looting.
In reaction, the State Security Agency said it “duly denied” the request because due processes by both the Office of the President and Parliament are under way to probe the circumstances which led to the unrest.
“The State Security Agency has noted with concern, the statement of the Democratic Alliance issued on Tuesday. In the statement, the DA claims that the agency is hiding information relating to the incidents of unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng,” said the intelligence agency’s Mava Scott.
This followed a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) request lodged by the DA, requesting the agency to make public the intelligence reports.
“The agency has duly denied the request because due processes by both the Office of the President and Parliament are under way to investigate the circumstances leading to the unrest and to assess the response of government to the unrest,” said Scott.
Acting Director-General of the State Security Agency, Ambassador Gab Msimang said the request by the DA was tantamount to jumping the gun.
"We have made submissions to the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence regarding all of this and the DA is represented in the committee,” said Msimang.
He said the DA’s assertion that the agency was hiding information “is without substance and in fact, it is meant to create unnecessary panic and suspicion in the mind of the public”.
The State Security Agency said South Africans must await the parliamentary review process and the outcome of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s expert panel on the unrest.
In the DA statement issued by shadow minister of state security Dianne Kohler-Barnard, the opposition party said its leader John Steenhuisen “submitted an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to the State Security Agency on 27 July to access the report(s) which Police Minister, Bheki Cele, categorically denied having received”.
“The Minister of State Security [Dlodlo] was summarily removed from that position after the violence, and to this date, it has not been established which of the Ministers' versions of events is correct. The DA is not satisfied by the SSA’s decision to not release these reports,” said Kohler-Barnard.
“The decision to hide behind Section 10 of the Intelligence Services Act and Section 44 of PAIA - is cowardice and highlights the State’s desire to continue to keep the veil of secrecy around the catastrophic events in July. It is this very level of secrecy the High-Level Review Panel report decried and obviously, the reports would have been redacted to protect the names of operatives, sources and other sensitive information.”
The DA insisted that complete transparency is required in terms of “who knew what and when as well as how our security cluster twiddled their thumbs” as KwaZulu-Natal’s industries and livelihoods went up in flames.
The DA said it remains firm in its assertion that the information is in the public interest.
“South Africans must know the contents of the supposed report and any intelligence information related to the ANC-sponsored violence which wreaked havoc on communities and businesses in KZN and Gauteng,” said Kohler-Barnard.