State Security Agency ‘unsafe’ after money, documents stolen from Pretoria offices
Politics / 9 February 2020, 1:20pm / Mzilikazi Wa Afrika and Karabo Ngoepe
Cape Town - An undisclosed amount of money and sensitive documents have been stolen from the State Security Agency offices in Pretoria, in what is believed to be a politically-motivated inside job.
Independent Media can today reveal that “robbers” walked into a safe at the office in Lyttelton, Gauteng two weeks ago and left with classified documents, an undisclosed amount of money in local and foreign currency and CCTV cameras, without breaking a door or a window.
Five security cluster sources - including three former security officials, a senior official from the cluster and a security consultant - said this week that there was no sign of forced entry as the safe demagnetised before the robbery.
The CCTV cameras were taken while the security guards tasked with guarding the multi-million-rand safe were not stationed at their post at the time of the robbery.
This is the second robbery at the SSA in five years following the theft of R17million in December 2015.
Insiders claim the robbery might have been staged to embarrass State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and give President Cyril Ramaphosa a reason to remove her should he reshuffle his Cabinet.
Dlodlo is embroiled in a tug-of-war with some senior agency officials over restructuring, political control and the future of the country’s spy agency.
“The premises are secured, it’s a national key point and highest standards of security apply. There are CCTV cameras in the building and on the floor.
“There was no forced entry, just like the previous robbery. Money and classified documents are kept in a vault. It’s obviously an inside job,” said a former SSA official.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed the elite crime-busting unit was probing a case of burglary at the SSA.
“The matter is being investigated by our Serious Organised Crime unit.” Mulaudzi declined to say how much was taken and how the robbers gained entry. But a Hawks investigator close to the investigation told Independent Media it was an inside job.
There is no CCTV footage, as the cameras were removed. “It’s an inside job. The safe where the money was in is a combination safe, meaning the individual had to know the code to open it.
“They also only took about R145000,” said the Hawks member.
“The security guard was not at his post between 4am and 7am and someone came to find the safe door open. Then the cashier came and that’s when they realised money was taken,” added the source.
SSA spokesperson Mava Scott confirmed the break-in and that the matter was under investigation.
A senior official within the government’s security cluster said the robbery was suspicious.
“It is reported that the robbers walked in and stole R150000 from the safe. But again, you ask yourself, how can one walk into the safe and steal a few hundred rand and leave behind what is believed to be millions in local and foreign currency?”
A former SSA official with intimate knowledge of security arrangements at the agency agreed.
“SSA offices have high-tech security and trained personnel, but on the night in question, nothing was working and the guards weren’t even there.
This is a huge embarrassment to the agency, hence everything has been kept hush-hush to avoid public scrutiny. If we can’t keep a vigilant eye on our offices, how on earth are we going to keep the entire country safe?” the source asked.
Employees who reported for duty that morning discovered the robbery when they realised the safe door was half-opened and magnets were removed from its door.
Two former SSA officials claimed the robbery was politically-motivated and aimed at embarrassing Dlodlo and forcing Ramaphosa’s hand amid speculation of a looming Cabinet reshuffle.
“Ayanda is seen as a stumbling block by those who want to loot the slush fund because she is trying to clean up the place, and stop the looting. Tender corruption within SSA is institutionalised, as most of the tenders aren’t open to the general public. For years, tenders worth millions of rand were awarded to companies linked to relatives and cronies of SSA top brass and Ayanda’s biggest crime was to put a stop to it.
“If she is removed as the minister then it would be free for all to eat again. People are starving ever since she was appointed.”
A conflict between Dlodlo and senior SSA officials spilled into the open in October when the minister and SSA domestic branch head Mahlodi Muofhe reportedly exchanged harsh letters over the running of the spy organisation and the minister’s powers.
City Press reported at the time that allies of Muofhe and SSA acting head Loyiso Jafta called for Ramaphosa to axe Dlodlo.