Spy tapes: ‘Selebi saved Zuma’

2011-01-22 15:55

Special Investigating Unit (SIU) boss Willie Hofmeyr allegedly told his deputy the secret tapes that ended President Jacob Zuma’s corruption case were “unlawful ­recordings” made by crime ­intelligence to “monitor” the ­investigation of former police chief Jackie Selebi.

The explosive claim is made in court papers filed by Faiek Davids, Hofmeyr’s former deputy at the SIU who is challenging his ­sacking from the unit at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Davids claims that the main ­reason for his axing by Hofmeyr was ­because he (Davids) was ­mentioned in a voicemail message left on his phone by former Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy, that formed part of the spy tapes.

This is the first time a senior law-enforcement official has stated on record that interceptions made for Selebi’s benefit led to Zuma’s corruption charges being dropped.

Selebi’s lawyer did not respond to questions sent by City Press, while Zuma’s lawyer, Michael ­Hulley, the initial recipient of the recordings, said it would be ­“unethical and improper” of him to comment on a pending inquiry to which he is not a party or legal representative.

The SIU is disputing Davids’s claims and is defending the ­matter. The unit declined to ­answer specific questions because it does not want to “undermine the CCMA proceedings”.

Former acting prosecutions boss Mokotedi Mpshe controversially dropped the case against ­Zuma in April 2009 – 16 days ­before the country’s national ­election was held.

The source of the tapes that ­implicated McCarthy and former National Prosecuting Authority boss Bulelani Ngcuka in plotting the timing of charges against Zuma has been shrouded in secrecy.

The former inspector-general of Intelligence, Zolile Ngcakani, ­conducted an investigation into how the tapes were leaked to ­Hulley, but his report has never been published.

Ngcakani’s successor, Faith Radebe, said this week that the ­report was sent to Parliament’s joint standing committee on ­intelligence and she considered the matter “finalised”.

In March last year, ANC MP Cecil Burgess, the chair of the standing committee, said he would release the report only if the committee found it to be in the public interest, and after ­consultation with Zuma.

The Mail & Guardian reported in May last year that two ­independent sources claimed former crime ­intelligence boss Mulangi ­Mphego, a close confidant of ­Selebi, was the original source of the recordings.

The recordings were obtained by crime intelligence through Operation Destroy Lucifer – a covert operation that countered the Scorpions’ probe of Selebi. McCarthy was one of the people whose phone calls were allegedly tapped.

The newspaper detailed Mphego’s movements in Durban, where he allegedly played some of the ­recordings to Zuma.

Contained in the transcripts of recordings that were released by Mpshe when he announced the dropping of charges against Zuma was a voicemail message left by McCarthy on Davids’s phone six days after Zuma was elected as ANC president.

The message was transcribed as: “Davids, uh, McCarthy here, give me a ring please, you send me ’n gevaarlike SMS here just before Christmas.

I am Thabo man, I mean we are still wiping the blood from our faces, or egg, or egg and blood from our faces.

“Saw the man on Friday evening, we planning a comeback strategy.

And once we have achieved that, we will clean up all around us my friend. Bye.”

In his complaint to the CCMA, Davids accuses Hofmeyr and the SIU of relying on “alleged evidence illegally sought” to fire him, and despite “repeated” requests by Davids for access to the tapes, Hofmeyr allegedly refused.

“In the course of these discussions, Hofmeyr said it would not be politically advisable for (Davids) to have access to these tapes.”

Davids also criticised Hofmeyr’s “attempts to interpret McCarthy’s message” as evidence of his support for former ­president Thabo Mbeki.

“On the contrary, the message points to (Davids) not being politically partisan,” the papers read.

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