Ramaphosa ’manipulated’ judge, former SSA boss claims in affidavit filed to Zondo Commission

By Mzilikazi Wa Afrika Time of article published Apr 25, 2021

Share this article:

Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa allegedly “manipulated” Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo regarding the handling of a court case involving former State Security Agency (SSA) director-general Arthur Fraser, to save the career of the inspector-general of intelligence, Dr Setlhomamaru Dintwe, in 2018.

According to an affidavit deposed at the Zondo Commission by Fraser two weeks ago and seen by the Sunday Independent, Ramaphosa was allegedly “engaged in an irregular process that manipulated the legal process of the Republic of South Africa” during a series of telephone calls between himself and Judge Mlambo, as well as between himself and former state security minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba.

At the centre of the calls was Dintwe’s court case challenging Fraser’s decision to withdraw his security clearance in March 2018 for allegedly lying under oath about the cause of a car accident while driving a state vehicle, collaborating and sharing classified information with the opposition party as well as leaking sensitive information to controversial journalist, Jacques Pauw, in breach of the Intelligence Services Oversight Act of 1994.

Fraser said in the affidavit that he had taken the decision after giving Ramaphosa and Letsatsi-Duba evidence of Dintwe having lied under oath about the cause of the accident, as well as his leaking of information to Pauw, including the report of the Road Traffic Management Corporation and audio recordings of telephone calls between the inspector general of intelligence and the investigative journalist.

He added the president and the minister had concurred with his decision after seeing the evidence and listening to the audio recordings independently.

Dintwe had taken Fraser’s decision on review at the North Gauteng High Court, which falls under Mlambo's control, and allegedly refused to withdraw it when advised by Letsatsi-Duba and Ramaphosa out of concerns about the implications for state security.

He added that Ramaphosa was cited as the fifth respondent by Dintwe in his court application.

In the affidavit, the former spy boss said Ramaphosa and Judge Mlambo discussed Dintwe’s case and reached an agreement on how to handle it.

Fraser further said in the affidavit this was confirmed by Ramaphosa in a telephone call to Letsatsi-Duba, which was made in his presence in a meeting called by the then minister on April 13, 2018 to discuss Dintwe’s refusal to withdraw his court application.

This was after Letsatsi-Duba had “correctly requested” Dintwe to withdraw the court application “and consider alternative mechanisms provided for in law to address his concerns”, but the inspector-general of intelligence refused. Fraser further claims in the affidavit that while he was discussing the way forward with Letsatsi-Duba, cited in the court papers as the first respondent, they were “interrupted by a call from Ramaphosa, who told the former minister he had agreed with Judge Mlambo that the case would be removed from the court roll.

“When the call was concluded, the minister informed me that the president had just informed her he had spoken to Judge President of the North Gauteng high court, Judge Dunstan Mlambo, and they had agreed that Judge Mlambo would manage the court process to prevent the urgent legal matter, scheduled for 17 April 2018, from being heard. The minister then informed me that the way forward agreed to, between the president and Judge Mlambo, was that the meeting of the legal representatives of the parties scheduled to determine the way forward on the urgent application will no longer take place,” Fraser said.

He added that Ramaphosa, Letsatsi-Duba and Judge Mlambo had acted irregularly.

“I will, hereunder, depict the evolvement of the situation post my withdrawal of the security clearance of the inspector-general of intelligence, and will describe how the President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency MC Ramaphosa, had manipulated the legal process pertaining to the legal matter that arose as a result of my withdrawal of the security clearance of the inspector-general of intelligence,” Fraser said.

“The manipulation of the legal process, involving the president of the republic of South Africa, was significantly assisted by a judge president in the republic of South Africa and the minister of state security agency. The manipulation was done to save a professionally improper and unfit inspector-general of Intelligence.”

Judge Mlambo last week denied having been manipulated by Ramaphosa nor ever receiving a call from the president about Dintwe’s court case.

“I have never received a phone call from the president whatsoever, not even to discuss the matter between Fraser and Dintwe.

And the Zondo Commission hasn’t yet notified me that I have been implicated by the former State Security Agency DG in his affidavit,” Judge Mlambo said.

Letsatsi-Duba, who is ambassador to Turkey but hasn’t yet taken her post after she failed her own security clearance, vehemently denied ever receiving a phone call from Ramaphosa in the presence of Fraser.

“I have never received a call from President Ramaphosa in the presence of former DG Fraser. In all the meetings we held with the former DG, all our phones were locked in a safe situated in our offices as a practice. We have never had our phones with us during meetings. This has been a standard practice at SSA. President Ramaphosa and myself have never discussed the legal issues related to the inspector-general’s security clearance.” Letsatsi-Duba said.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Tyrone Seale, and Zondo Commission spokesperson Mbuyiselo Stemela failed to respond to questions sent to them last week.

“I have never received a phone call from the president whatsoever not even to discuss the matter between Fraser and Dintwe. And the Zondo Commission hasn’t yet notified me that I have been implicated by the former State Security Agency DG in his affidavit,” Judge Mlambo said.

Letsatsi-Duba, who is ambassador to Turkey but hasn’t yet taken her post after she failed her own security clearance, vehemently denied ever receiving a phone call from Ramaphosa in the presence of Fraser.

“I have never received a call from President Ramaphosa in the presence of former DG Fraser. In all the meetings we held with the former DG, all our phones were locked in a safe situated in our offices as a practice. We have never had our phones with us during meetings. This has been a standard practice at SSA. President Ramaphosa and myself have never discussed the legal issues related to the inspector-general’s security clearance.” Letsatsi-Duba said.

Ramaphosa spokesperson, Tyrone Seale, and Zondo Commission spokesperson Mbuyiselo Stemela failed to respond to the questions sent to them last week.

Inspector-general of intelligence spokesperson, advocate Jay Govender, refused to answer direct questions about Dintwe and his case with Fraser but said: “The IGI is still on the stand at the commission and we therefore will not comment now. These questions can be answered during the main examination or cross examination by the IGI in the commission. We however reserve our right to respond anytime.”

Fraser stated that his trouble started when SSA investigated a car accident involving Dintwe in July 2017 after the inspector- general of intelligence “stated under oath the cause of the accident was a tyre burst that sounded like an explosion.”

He said the SSA investigated the accident to “determine if someone intended to harm the inspector-general of intelligence” but “the outcome of the forensic accident investigation refuted claims made” by Dintwe.

“The inspector-general of intelligence had thus lied under oath by submitting false information in his affidavit about the misuse of state resources and the cause of the 15 July 2017 accident,” Fraser stated in his affidavit.

Fraser also said in the affidavit that Dintwe, whose phone was legally bugged after it emerged he was leaking sensitive information to third parties, was recorded assuring Pauw that he would rather be fired than investigate the SSA’s complaint against him for having allegedly illegally received information used to write his book, titled The President’s Keepers.

“The conversation was initiated by the inspector-general of intelligence. In the recorded conversation, Dr SI Dintwe, the inspector-general of intelligence informs Mr Jacques Pauw that he had been asked to investigate Mr Jacques Pauw and that he would never do it and ’they can rather arrest me, I will not do it’.” Pauw couldn’t be reached for comment.

Fraser added in his affidavit that Letsatsi-Duba and Ramaphosa then hatched a plan that saw him moved to the Correctional Services Department, ostensibly pending the finalisation of Dintwe’s own investigation against him. However, two years later nothing has come out of that alleged probe, Fraser added.

“The minister informed me that she and the president had agreed on a way forward that would resolve the inspector- general of intelligence’s court matter. In this regard, the minister asked me to accept a temporary transfer to another national department to allow the inspector-general of intelligence space to finalise his investigation against me.”

Fraser couldn’t be reached for comment and his lawyer, advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, failed to respond to calls and messages.

Sunday Independent

Share this article: