By Angela Quintal

The National intelligence Agency (NIA) claims it tipped off the elite Scorpions investigating unit that the vigilante group Pagad would assassinate a judicial official this week, according to the minister of justice, Penuell Maduna.

Maduna told reporters in Pretoria on Friday that the NIA's claims were being investigated, following Thursday's assassination of Cape Town magistrate, Pieter Theron, in the driveway of his Plumstead home in Cape Town.

If the claims are true, it will be another blow for the Scorpions, which earlier this week admitted that a Rwandan genocide suspect had escaped arrest in South Africa after a mix-up between it and the department of home affairs.

Community safety minister for the Western Cape, Hennie Bester, said that the first question he posed at a meeting involving top security and intelligence officials on Friday related to the NIA claims.

"They told me that they had no information on that." However, they did have information that "other people involved were in danger" although they were not magistrates, he said.

Bester would not elaborate, but said security had been stepped up around these people.

Neither the NIA nor Bulelani Ngcuka, the national director of public prosecutions, who has overall responsibility for the Scorpions, were immediately available for comment.

Addressing a joint press conference with the minister of safety and security, Steve Tshwete, Maduna said the NIA had apparently received intelligence that Pagad was planning such a killing.

The NIA passed this on to the investigative directorate on organised crime and public safety, which forms part of the Scorpions special investigation unit, he said.

"The NIA told us this morning, and we are inquiring who received this information ... and what was done with it".

It is not the first time intelligence information has apparently gone awry ahead of an act of urban terror in Cape Town.

Western Cape intelligence agents claimed they had warned provincial government officials that there would be a build up in urban terror incidents ahead of last year's November bomb blast at the St Elmo's Pizzeria in Camps Bay. - Sapa