‘Restore public trust after spy cable scandal’

2015-03-02 13:38

Parliament needed to act fast to deal with the spy cables scandal in order to build public trust, Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier appealed today.

In a letter to the chairperson of the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, Connie September, he called on her to schedule an urgent briefing by the Minister of State Security David Mahlobo, and for the committee to conduct its own investigation into the scandal.

“It is not an exaggeration to suggest that this is defining moment for the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence,” he wrote.

Maynier said this was imperative as Mahlobo’s investigation “appears to be focused on the source of the alleged leak from within State Security Agency”.

Maynier said that the parliament investigation could determine whether “non-governmental organisations and activists were illegally placed under surveillance by the agency”.

Maynier requested that the outcome of parliament’s “separate and independent” investigation be tabled and made public.

“I am requesting you to communicate clearly and unambiguously going forward on what action will be taken … in order to build public trust,” said Maynier.

Maynier’s letter followed a reply to his initial request for a probe in which September wrote: “I am confident that the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence would and are well equipped to deal with any matters it so desires.”

Maynier described September’s reply as “perfunctory, dismissive and not good enough”.

Condemning the leaks two days after they were released, Mahlobo said a full investigation had been launched.

From Monday last week, confidential cables covering the period from 2006 to the end of last year, and which included briefings and analysis from South African agents, were revealed by Al Jazeera and The Guardian.

The cables revealed how intelligence was shared between the State Security Agency and international intelligence agencies, including the CIA in the United States.

The documents also reveal that South Africa was asked to spy on non-governmental organisation activists, including Greenpeace boss Kumi Naidoo.

Comment from September was not immediately forthcoming.

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