Editor’s note: He ruined justice

I’ve long thought the former head of the Directorate of Special Operations, Leonard McCarthy, was less than honest.

The release of transcripts of the so-called “spy tapes” – intercepted conversations belonging to South Africa’s intelligence services – means I now know so.

I make a cameo appearance in the tapes, courtesy of McCarthy’s account of conversations with me.

The account is false, designed to bolster the former Scorpions boss’s sense of self-importance, along with the high he got from rubbing shoulders with politicians.

I doubt former president Thabo Mbeki told him to speak to me when I edited the Mail & Guardian, to get our team to “quiet down”.

We were tracking the investigation of corruption charges against the man who was then the ANC’s deputy president, Jacob Zuma, and McCarthy didn’t have that influence.

The former president also did not really like the M&G at the time, although he gave us a great interview.

In fact, McCarthy failed to stop the M&G’s crack team of Stefaans Brümmer and Sam Sole twice before.

He first attempted to raid our offices to gain access to documents. When that failed, he took us to court to interdict

reports about the corrupting of former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi.

That exposé also featured Brett Kebble, who was, of course, the first person to blow the whistle on politically corrupt prosecutions.

McCarthy failed both times because the M&G’s lawyers made excellent public interest arguments. Justice works that way. And while he makes us sound buddy-buddy, I was no friend of his.

My one meeting with him was to get information about the date of Zuma’s prosecution. It yielded little. But the partisan rubbish he spouted at our one meeting is at the heart of the spy tapes.

He was impaled by the seductions of power. He ruined our criminal justice system.

I find it breathtaking that he is vice-president of integrity at the World Bank in Washington, DC.

That meeting was part of a series of meetings we held with all sides in the high drama: Mbeki and Zuma, all their respective advisers, and all sides at war in the NPA. We did what journalists do – we reported everything. The archives prove this.

I wish McCarthy and former national director of public pro-secutions Bulelani Ngcuka had exercised fairness and due diligence, as well as the constitutional entreaty to act without fear, favour or prejudice.

They’ve ruined the independence of our cornerstone institutions and ensured justice will not be done in this case.

extract from the spy tapes

Leonard McCarthy

.?The president said I must speak to Ferial and just ask them to quiet down a little, which I did?...

.?We are doing more damage to ourselves than the Mail & Guardian

.?We are just f***king things up ourselves

Bulelani Ngcuka

.?That’s true, that’s true, absolutely true, you know that’s true

Leonard McCarthy

.?I met with her now and I conveyed those sentiments

.?She said: ‘Leonard, it’s not your guys speaking, I would tell you if it’s your guys speaking to us. We have our own sources

.?‘But the problem is that your department, your ministry, and between your ministry and Mpshe, they are fighting so much, that we are having a field day

.?‘You inflict damage yourself, don’t blame us’

Bulelani Ngcuka

.?That’s true

Leonard McCarthy

.?She says we are being kind to you because we know you are strong guys there, you don’t talk s**t. Umm, there is nothing controversial about you

.?But as for the rest, don’t blame us if we ridicule them a little because they are doing it to themselves

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