Unnamed judge probed for accepting State Security Agency bribe

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published Jan 26, 2021

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THE State Security Agency (SSA) is investigating at least one member of the judiciary for accepting money through a project that was meant to influence the outcome of cases against former president Jacob Zuma.

Acting SSA director-general Loyiso Jafta told the commission of inquiry into state capture on Tuesday that the agency had very strong circumstantial evidence of cash having been handed to a member of the judiciary.

”What we do not have, and it’s because … let me not go into that. We have very strong circumstantial evidence some of the money went into the hands of members, or a member, of the judiciary,” Jafta told commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, adding that the SSA did not have concrete evidence.

Jafta continued: “We are talking about cash transaction, it’s money gets delivered to A, and A delivers it to B.”

Evidence leader Paul Pretorius asked whether the judge concerned had been questioned.

“No, we have not asked the judge. It is unavoidable that we have to at some point. Investigations are ongoing,” Jafta responded.

Justice Zondo also questioned Jafta about whether the money went to just one judge, and if he was aware of any case involving other members of the judiciary.

”There is strong circumstantial evidence in respect of one,” said Jafta in his response.

The director of the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Public Policy and African Studies, Dr Sydney Mufamadi, on Monday told the commission that part of the “weaponisation” of the intelligence services for partisan and factional purposes included “Project Justice”.

Mufamadi, who chaired a high-level review panel on the SSA appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018, testified that Project Justice involved recruiting and handling sources in the judiciary in order to influence the outcome of cases against Zuma.

“Information provided to the panel indicated that amounts of between R1.2 million and R4.5m were routinely taken from the SSA and provided to (former state security minister David) Mahlobo who, it is said, was responsible for handling these sources,” Mufamadi said.

According to the former safety and security minister, the panel was told that Project Justice was motivated by a perceived need to counter the influence of judges hostile to Zuma.

”Allegations made were to the effect that judges were bribed to achieve this purpose. This should, however, be treated with extreme caution as one would not want to be party to the destruction of public confidence in the judiciary if there is no actual evidence that the operation was carried out to conclusion,” Mufamadi said.

He added that the panel believed it was possible that this project did not exist and was instead used as a ruse to obtain state resources.

”However, even if this were so, funds should not have been allocated to a project of this nature, which on all accounts constituted a serious breach of the constitutionally guaranteed separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary,” he said.

An unidentified witness will give evidence related to the SSA on Wednesday.

Political Bureau

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