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Dintwe on corruption and nepotism in state security

There are no financial controls or proper oversight.
A licence was procured for anti-spyware software that cost millions, but the software was never delivered. Image: Daniel Acker, Bloomberg

Dr Setlhomamaru Dintwe, the Inspector-General of Intelligence, appeared before the Zondo Commission on May 5 to continue with his State Security Agency (SSA) related evidence.

The three arms of state security – Intelligence, Crime Intelligence (CI) and the SSA – fall within his oversight purview.

When he first appeared before the commission on April 20, he told it that the ministers of police, defence and state security had tried to prevent him from testifying, for the reason that he hadn’t consulted with them first. 

Nepotism

Dintwe explained that it is general practice for intelligence services to identify underprivileged or previously disadvantaged students and give them a bursary, on the understanding that they will be absorbed into the agency. There is no selection criteria.

However, he has evidence that the SSA was turned into an employment agency for the politically connected, as well as those connected to the senior managers within the agency.

Regulations were also breached in promoting people to senior positions.

He said Ronnie Kasrils, Minister for Intelligence Services for the period April 27, 2004 to September 25, 2008, at one point “disowned” about 40 candidates as they were connected to various ministers.

Stolen money

Dintwe gave examples of “stolen money”:

  • Witness K confirmed that “money has been stolen and we are talking lots and lots of money taken with suitcases”, and no one was held accountable.
  • Sources merely signed for the receipt of the money. One of the transactions was equivalent to €200 000 (R3.4 million).
  • Large sums of cash were withdrawn during the 2016/2017 financial year of SSA Operations. He included this in the certificates (reports of findings) submitted to the responsible minister. Bheki Cele would receive the certificate on behalf of the police intelligence, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on behalf Defence Intelligence, and Ayanda Dlodlo on behalf of the SSA.
  • One member claimed that he had approximately R3.6 million while on an operation – “This is clearly absurd”.
  • A SSA member has submitted fraudulent travel claims amounting to R9 million over three years.
  • A senior official (for example a CFO) in CI would send a subordinate (the runner) to collect money from the accounting department for “a source”. The CFO would claim that the money was given to the source. The person responsible for the accounting would be the runner. There is no proof that the source received the money. The runner would get a kickback.
  • A licence was procured for anti-spyware software, which cost millions, but the software was never delivered.
  • The SSA used a secret service account to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE).

Dintwe had a concern that the “stolen money” was used to fund different factions within the ANC.

Certificates of findings

Certificates of findings are sent directly to the responsible minister as well as to the Joint Standing Committee of Intelligence (JSCI). Dintwe also compiled a “monitoring report”, for example on the procurement of software, which is sent to the responsible ministers.

Dintwe confirmed that the JSCI was inadequate in its oversight role, and that the recommendations of his predecessor, the late Faith Radebe, were not implemented.

“Our recommendations are just being ignored willy-nilly.”

Dintwe acknowledged that large sums of cash are required for operations, but that secrecy should “not make any public servant immune to accountability and sound financial management”.

Dintwe confirmed the inadequate accounting of moneys, looting, factional battles and that no member of the JSCI can claim to be ignorant.

Members of opposition parties claimed that they could push so far, but where ANC members are in the majority, they cannot proceed.

Unlawful classification of documents

Dintwe said that the law or the regulation which says you cannot use classification to conceal malfeasance is itself a secret document, so “any person affected or interested in unlawful classification of documents cannot source the very regulation that deals with it”.

Zondo remarked that the classification of such a document cannot be legitimate.

An example of an irregularly classified document is in regard to procurement of blinds and curtains by crime intelligence officials.

An attempt to eavesdrop on the 2017 Nasrec conference

Dintwe had been contacted by Bongani Mbindwane, who was at that time advisor to the then minister of police Fikile Mbalula. Mbindwane told him that a group of “backpackers” wanted to listen in to the Nasrec December 2017 conference.

A backpacker is someone who looks like a tourist (carries a backpack and cameras), but is actually an underground operative.

Mbindwane, as a ministerial special advisor, should not have been involved in procurement at all.

Mbindwane said that that they were in urgent need of (electronic) grabbers for the amount of R210 million.

A grabber enables eavesdropping. If it is placed in the required radius of a party conference, all electronic communications can be monitored within the prescribed radius of the grabber.

Due to the urgency, it was only possible to source one grabber for R45 million. An ordinary grabber costs R7 million.

Dintwe had information that the additional money (R45 million less R7 million) would be used to buy votes at Nasrec.

Ipid (the Independent Police Investigative Directorate) cancelled the procurement of the grabber.

IGI and AG “combined audit assurance”

Dintwe said that some of the transactions in the intelligence services are too confidential for the Auditor-General (AG) to audit. It was agreed that the Office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence (IGI) should assist in the auditing process to “provide some kind of combined audit assurance”.

He outlined the problem though, that they do not have an audit mandate nor do they have audit capacity.

Before his arrival there was an agreement with the AG that some 10% of moneys, a “slush fund”, would not be audited. Dintwe referred to this as a blind spot that had been created for the AG.

Dintwe confirmed that a list of suspicious financial transactions were included in the IGI reports that were submitted to the ministers, the JSCI and the relevant heads of the intelligence services.

Dintwe not only stood up to corruption, but reported on all corrupt matters and irregularities to the responsible ministers and the chair of the JSCI over, and over, and over.

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Mind blowing! I suppose the Prez will be shocked …

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