‘Cover up’ of theft of SA missile technology exposed

2015-02-23 21:45

Cape Town – A secret Israeli spy cable has exposed an alleged cover up surrounding the theft of South African missile technology, according to cables in Al Jazeera’s possession.

Today the news organisation announced that it was in possession of leaked documents from State Security Agency (SSA) operatives showing how South Africa became vulnerable to foreign espionage after the end of apartheid.

The cables, obtained by Al Jazeera, span a period from 2006 to the end of 2014, and include detailed briefings and analyses written by the operatives.

Al Jazeera is set to start releasing the documents to the world this evening.

In one of the documents, obtained by Al Jazeera’s Investigative unit, it reveals how SA spies hid the fact that Israel had obtained stolen weapon plans.

According to one of the cables two men were caught red-handed trying to sell stolen missile blueprints, software and components from Denel.

Police launched a sting operation, posed as Russian buyers, and made their arrests outside Johannesburg in 2010.

Somehow, Israel’s Mossad had got hold of the anti-tank missile blueprints. It sparked a behind the scenes battle between the two nations spies.

South Africa wanted the blueprints back, which Israel agreed to provided that a citizen, Yitzhak Talia, would not be prosecuted, the cable shows.

He was not and it appears South Africa covered up Israel’s involvement and got its blueprints back.

Two men were tried without any mention of Israel’s secret role.

The SSA’s spokesperson Brian Dube told News24 the agency was aware of “this project”.

“Our policy that regulates the management of all classified documentation remains in place. That is all really that we can say.”

News24 had contacted the Israeli Ambassador for comment, but was told by his secretary that until he had seen the documents, he is in no position to comment.

- Additional reporting by Ferial Haffajee

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