Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has expressed his anger at the detention of erstwhile first lady Nompumelelo Zuma against her will during the State Security Agency’s (SSA’s) investigation into former president Jacob Zuma’s suspected poisoning.
The Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Tuesday heard that the SSA unlawfully detained Zuma’s estranged wife, who is popularly known as MaNtuli, during its probe into Zuma’s poisoning and its chairperson Justice Zondo described the matter as “quite serious”.
It would be detention by an organ of state in circumstances where no law allowed the organ of state to detain her. It would be quite serious,” Zondo said.
The country’s second most senior judge was responding to acting SSA director-general Loyiso Jafta’s revelations during his evidence that the agency was involved in the investigation of the attempted murder of Zuma allegedly by MaNtuli.
”Mrs Zuma was put in the custody of the SSA. She was in remand detention without having gone through due process. She was disagreeable to the circumstances in which she found herself,” he said.
On Monday, former safety and security minister Sydney Mufamadi told the commission that part of the weaponisation of intelligence for partisan and factional purposes included “Project Tin Roof”.
Mufamadi, who chaired the high-level review panel on the SSA appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018, said the investigation into the alleged attempted poisoning of Zuma by MaNtuli included acquiring a safe house for her and seemingly maintaining it given that the “Project Tin Roof” had a budget of R5.2 million and a monthly withdrawal of R800 000.
He said “Project Accurate/Khusela” saw the agency recruit toxicologists to test Zuma’s food and bedding and that it had an initial monthly allocation of R500 000, which increased to R1.5m in the 2015/16 financial year. According to Mufamadi, the panel did not understand this project to be the SSA’s responsibility.
Earlier on Tuesday, State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo was unsuccessful in her bid to stop Jafta from giving evidence at the commission due to national security-related concerns.
Jafta assured the commission that all information contained in his affidavit, the matters he dealt with and the identities of the persons involved were those that are already in the public domain.
He said his evidence was limited to narrow issues at this stage as he is conscious of the need to respect matters of national security.
”The director-general is compelled in terms of section 10(4) of the Intelligence Services Act of 2002 to as far as reasonably practicable take steps to ensure that national security, intelligence collection methods, sources of information and the identity of members of the agency are protected from unauthorised disclosure,” explained Jafta.
Meanwhile, the African News Agency (ANA) has denied Mufamadi’s earlier claims that it received funds from the SSA as part of infiltrating and influencing the media at home and abroad, in order, apparently, to counter bad publicity for the country, Zuma and the agency.
”I can also confirm that in 2016/17 ANA had a contract with the SSA to provide multi-media training for SSA analysts and interns across Africa, and to use its platforms, in particular the African Independent newspaper, to carry positive stories about South Africa and the South African government,” ANA chief executive Vasantha Angamuthu said on Tuesday.
Angamuthu indicated that ANA was “entirely unaware of any sinister motive by the SSA and did not participate in, nor would we have sanctioned, any business outside of our key focus, which is driving growth and development on the African continent using media”.
She said at the time of entering into an agreement with the SSA, ANA was not aware of any sinister motives behind the agency’s approach.
”If we were aware of such motives, we would most certainly not have entered into such an agreement,” said Angamuthu, adding that Mufamadi’s claims come as complete news to her and the ANA team.
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