New scandal hits spy world

2011-09-11 10:37

Johannesburg - State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele has ordered his top three intelligence chiefs to quit.

This follows a row over official protection provided for the minister’s wife during her trial on drug-trafficking charges, City Press has learnt.

This is the third scandal to hit South Africa’s intelligence establishment in the past six years.

State Security ministry spokesperson Brian Dube confirmed on Saturday that Gibson Njenje, the head of the State Security Agency’s (SSA) domestic branch – previously known as the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) – had resigned. He would not comment on “other speculation”.

Njenje’s resignation and its acceptance “with immediate effect” was announced within the agency, which is responsible for domestic and international intelligence, on Friday.


Njenje declined to comment, but City Press understands that there is uncertainty in the agency as to whether Njenje resigned out of free will or was forced to do so.

Cwele also asked director-general Jeff Maqetuka and the head of the South African Secret Service – now known as the agency’s foreign branch – Moe Shaik, to leave the agency. 

They have allegedly refused to quit and have sought legal advice in the past week.

A showdown between the minister and his intelligence chiefs has loomed for some time, but came to a head in the past two weeks when he called them in and asked them to leave.

Insiders in the SSA say that the breakdown in trust between the minister and his intelligence chiefs are, among others, as a result of his wife Sheryl Cwele’s drug-trafficking conviction in May this year.

Minister's management style

City Press understands that the intelligence chiefs are also unhappy with the minister’s management style and felt that he did not properly understand the intelligence environment.

The catalyst for the showdown was a deep unhappiness within the agency after Cwele allegedly ordered that his wife be afforded intelligence protection for the duration of her trial. She was, insiders claim, transported to and from her trial in official vehicles and protected by intelligence-agency officers.

Sheryl Cwele was afforded full protection for the duration of her trial, even though the agency does not have a VIP protection unit and any protection would have had to be authorised by Njenje himself.

The SSA only provides security for foreign heads of state and other very important visitors to the country. Ordinary VIP protection is provided to Cabinet ministers by the police.

City Press understands that Njenje recently confronted the minister with the costs, leading to a showdown with Cwele.


The row deepened when agents came across further information associated with Sheryl Cwele’s involvement in drug trafficking.

The KwaZulu-Natal High Court sentenced Sheryl Cwele to 12 years’ imprisonment in May after she and her co-accused Nigerian Frank Nabolisa were found guilty of procuring two women to smuggle cocaine from South America to South Africa. She is appealing the sentence.

At the time of the crime and during the trial, she was the head of health services in the Hibiscus municipality. She was fired from her job last month.

Shaik refused to comment and Maqetuka could not be reached for comment. Sheryl Cwele did not answer calls to her cellphone on Saturday.

The three intelligence bosses have drawn a line in the sand with their minister, apparently telling him that only President Jacob Zuma has the authority to dismiss them because he appointed them.

Tensions reached boiling point

Cwele had apparently offered them redeployment, probably as ambassadors. Shaik was previously South Africa’s ambassador to Algeria.

Shaik is a long-time confidant of Zuma. He was active in campaigning for Zuma’s corruption charges to be dropped.

While this week saw tension in the agency reaching boiling point, intelligence sources say that conflict between the intelligence chiefs began back in October 2009, largely due to Cwele’s management style.

Shaik, Njenje and Maqetuka have vast previous experience in intelligence, while Cwele was appointed as minister without any prior knowledge of the spy world.

Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils said he could not comment on the latest developments, but added: “I wish government would refer and take heed of the shelved Matthews Report of 2008 that talks about the necessity of reforming the country’s intelligence services. It has obviously not happened.”


The Matthews Report was commissioned by Kasrils and recommended tightening control over the intelligence agency’s involvement in domestic political affairs.

“There are inherent and systemic problems in intelligence that, unless corrected, will leave the institution in a problematic state. 

“This is made worse by a culture of excessive secrecy and paranoia that prevails in the institution and will be made worse by measures contained in the Protection of Information Bill,” he said.

Former intelligence chief Billy Masetlha told City Press: “It seems as though there is an unfortunate and serious crisis within the agency. 

“This is not good for the SSA, this is not good for the country. If there is one state institution you want to run smoothly and efficiently, it is your intelligence service.

“This is tragic, this is unfortunate and should have been managed better. This crisis has to be resolved speedily otherwise it will have disastrous consequences for the country.” 

  • Ross - 2011-09-11 10:47

    God help this country. This type of BS is neverending.

      Macho Mike - 2011-09-11 13:05

      Agree Ross. What government department, ministry, office or board is not corrupted, fraudulent, dishonest, incompetent, useless, lazy, inefficient or ineffective nowadays? The are all full of s-h-i-t, it's only the depth that varries.

      Bluescreen - 2011-09-11 15:53

      Only problem is .... there is no god, so this country will continue to sink, while the garbage that pretend to 'run' the country will continue to float and live in the lap of luxury. Typical "African" style democracy.

      simnikiwentingi - 2011-09-11 17:22

      Do spies really exist. as in spies like the ones in the movies?

  • Ula Gillion - 2011-09-11 10:47

    Can we expect any better when someone gets appointed as boss of intelligence who "did not properly understand the intelligence environment"?

      Frans Smith - 2011-09-11 14:16

      What a joke...., actually this sircus is not funny anymore?

      leonard - 2011-09-11 18:13

      @Ula. Have read all the post`s so far and I find that nobody has asked or aired this question.WHY would his thieving wife be entitled to ANY type of security by the state security services?Surely if she was entitled to any type of security this would have been supplied by the police services.So,there is more to this than we would care to know.Lets see if the newspapers can follow up?

      Ula Gillion - 2011-09-11 20:26

      @leonard You raise a good point. Let's see. Should be interesting

      tryanything - 2011-09-11 20:29

      Lots of appointments where the people concerned dont know what they are doing. I worked for an american company that kept bringing in managers from outside..they Would cripple the operation even more due to lack of experience and quickly pull out just before a crash...

      Craigr - 2011-09-11 22:21

      The dickhead does not even know what his wife is doing, how can he pretend to know what the other 53 million of us are doing... Another BEE appointment by JZ783 and company.

  • Logs01 - 2011-09-11 10:51

    What a BAD Circus and Joke this aall is.

      Netherlander - 2011-09-11 16:18

      The LEFT HAND.... does NOT know what the RIGHT HAND is UPTO! The Minister in UN-INTELLIGENCE, called Siyabonga Cwele should stand up and RESIGN, or the SPINELSS ZUMA must just FIRE THE CADRE!!!!!! He KNEW what his wife was upto, and ENJOYED ther SPOILS!!!!! As for Sheik, Njenje and Maqetuka, what the hell are they doing in National INTELLIGENCE in the 1st place? Should all be BEHIND BLOODY BARS!!! Welcome the the BANANA REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      tryanything - 2011-09-11 17:37

      the right hand is too busy playing with bananas

      Craigr - 2011-09-11 22:28

      To the rest of the world, The ministers involved in RSA intelligance are a joke.

  • Old dog - 2011-09-11 11:02

    Which intelligence?

      OZNOB - 2011-09-11 16:34

      that would appear to be a contradiction in terms

      umlaut - 2011-09-11 20:15

      Imagine if these guys must start controlling what is secret or not using this new law controlling the media. His wife would probably be let off in a few months time and it will be classified information. We are heading into a dark black hole like in outer space---no escape from its gravitational pull.

  • Vuzi - 2011-09-11 11:08

    I come here for the the OMG's, I stay for the LOL's.

  • BOFFINBOB_UNBANNED - 2011-09-11 11:20


  • Trevor - 2011-09-11 11:26

    Funny how ANY appointment Jacob Zuma makes, turns into an absolute COCK UP of the HIGHEST order....this is what happens when you have a leader who is just a puppet for the true decision makers in want to see who really runs SA, look at the ULTRA rich families in SA...all members of the ANC or financial backers...

  • PinkAndProud - 2011-09-11 11:26

    Somehow the word 'intelligence' doesn't belong in the same sentence as the ANCrime Syndicate because they sure have now clue on how to 'apply their minds'.

  • Protest - 2011-09-11 11:28

    The State Security Agency making "WAR" on themselves. The ANCYL in "WAR" with the mother body, the ANC. The ANCYL causing millions of rand worth of damage with their riots. Outside investors leaving South Africa like rats leaving a sinking ship. Minister's wife convicted for drug trafficing. Malema and the ANCYL declaring economic "WAR" against the White population. The South African unions involved with the "WAR" for democracy in Lesotho. The ANCYL threatening to destabilize Botswana. South Africa involved with the WAR in Libya. A murder rate in South Africa that is just mindbogglingly high. Rape is the national sport. Our new Chief Justice believing the victims of crime carry partial guilt in the crime. The South African AIDS epedemic totally out of control. The news reads like some futuristic Science Fiction story where civilization totally collapsed. Our road infrastructure certainly looks like the roads portrayed in the Mad Max movies. (Actually Mad Max had decent roads) South Africa is proof that fact can be stranger than fiction.

      Rooikopdolla - 2011-09-14 02:19

      The funny thing is NOBODY outside South Africa knows any of this - or don't want to know - because it is not reported on in the world! Only a few of us who read the news on the internet know about all the bad stuff. If you try to tell anybody what really goes on, they don't believe you - because it is unbelievable!!!

  • Cheryl Muir - 2011-09-11 12:01


      jaetype - 2011-09-11 14:12

      Well said Cheryl, but please stay away from the rugby comments!

  • F Smit - 2011-09-11 12:08

    Our honourable minister of state security is in constant association with and married to a convicted drug smuggeler.The president of our nation is a suspect associate and bussiness partner/client of a convicted criminal. It seems that our whole government structure is to different extents involved in extensive degrees of criminal activity. Where is this fiasco heading???????? If this is the fruits of the so called freedom struggle we have to reconsider our position. At this moment I am prepared to propagate and if necessary even fight for a knew dispensation. Devide the country. Establish for once and for all a wall/border between those who preferred to live with and provide for the ANC 's bandit government untill its eventual collapse!!!!. On the other side of the border/wall we will welcome the disillusioned who preferred out of free will to work in and if necessary fight for the protection of a government based on a sound constitution and established within the parameters of our justice system and the will of our established social fabric. The only prerequisite for anyone who want to join my otopia is that he/she must be prepared to live and adhere to the values established in the ten commandments. Please be my guest if you can suggest a better solution.

      john_jones - 2011-09-11 14:43

      F Smit -- South Africa will be Balkanised at some point in time. The sooner the better.The ANC dominated territory can be called 'Tsotsiland'.

  • Cheryl Muir - 2011-09-11 12:10


      Dave50 - 2011-09-11 12:30

      There are some good ones and I have met a couple, Garth Gomazulu for one. He works for his people and not like Juju, for himself then does not preach hatred when caught out. The problem is the bad outnumber the good by too many and so we considder them all the same, not fair really but understandable.

      Woofix - 2011-09-11 12:36

      For Sure, but how will u managed to proof that?????

      Frans Smith - 2011-09-11 14:19

      the only ANC members who have not committed some form of crime; 1) has not been caught yet, 2) has not had the opportunity yet.

      Netherlander - 2011-09-11 16:20

      ANC have NEVER been INNOCENT!!!! They were GUILTY from the day they became a TERRORIST ORGANISATION!!!!!

      Organist-1 - 2011-09-11 17:15

      As with your earlier comment, is your caps lock stuck? One doesn't need to swear and shout to make your point that was taken.

      tryanything - 2011-09-11 20:33

      I believe that is why they keep naming their kids 'Innocent'. Who do they think they are fooling??

  • Bart23 - 2011-09-11 12:30

    Since when is a drug trefficer a frigging VIP!?!

      Netherlander - 2011-09-11 16:21

      SAD, BUT TRUE @ Frans Smith

      Ogre - 2011-09-12 00:48

      Cwele was scared that the Colombians might take out his wife to keep her quiet before he could get the combination to the safe out of her.

  • Tom - 2011-09-11 12:49

    And the story progresses....never ending story of corrupt officials been appointed and the gravy train runs on.......

  • Menno - 2011-09-11 13:02

    how many years are they still going receive their monthly salaries

  • spy007 - 2011-09-11 13:09

    Spies are everywhere and so are spy gadgets (see for a list of dangerous spy gadgets)

  • AJ2 - 2011-09-11 13:26

    Forced to resign? Seriously can you not just FIRE people anymore? Say the word, FIRE, it's not difficult....

      Netherlander - 2011-09-11 16:22

      FIRE is what you get in the dry season in the Free State and Highveld farms!!

  • gatvol4corru - 2011-09-11 13:41

    the idiot does not understand much! Except,he lost money on his wife's coke deal! F*king corrupt Africa!

  • FU2 - 2011-09-11 13:51

    Bongani Cwele should be fired from this portfolio

      Ula Gillion - 2011-09-11 20:28

      And he should be kept from applying for any other portfolio

  • Vela Stardust - 2011-09-11 13:52

    What a bunch of mamparas! How could Njenje not know that Sheryl Cwele was trafficking drugs? How could her husband not know? Just goes to show none of them know anything! Zero intelligence in more ways than one.

  • Boeretroos - 2011-09-11 14:18

    Folks - the world knows what screw-ups the government is ! To all the agencies across the world - Scrutenize any South African diplomat and government official as well as their agents extremely carefully. Check em up guys ! Wolves in sheeps clothing they are !

  • michael.e.bowery - 2011-09-11 14:27

    All this from a Minister who `allegedly' didn't know what his wife was up to and smuggling drugs big time. Please pull my other leg. Sounds a bit like old Robert Mugabe who used Sally Mugabe when alive to do much of HIS smuggling to Switzerland but of course that was DRC diamonds not drugs.

  • Herbert - 2011-09-11 14:37

    The South African Government, i.e. ANC no gooders, is using the intelligence services, both foreign and domestic, as their own investigation and dirty tricks department. I refer you to the fine print in RICA legislation. All your conversations, emails and SMS's are recorded as a matter of course. all they need is a warrant to access it. Same with the whistleblower clause in our to be presented anti-Freedom Bill. I feel the same vibe as what Mugabe used when he took over the CIO in Zim, Khomeini in Iran and Pinochet in Argentina.

  • Andrew - 2011-09-11 14:42

    So the minister is not resigning because they do not live together any more as the marriage is over but he then expects her to get full benefits. So what is it minister?

  • Verdade - 2011-09-11 17:33

    Again a Shaik! What is happening in this corrupt crime ridden country!! God have mercy on us honest citizens!

  • T de J - 2011-09-11 19:07

    and the bad will be taken as the good and put into positions of authority while the good will be cast aside and ridiculed . does this sound familiar . food for thought , and the ministor whose wife was shipping drugs is still in office ?

  • Craigr - 2011-09-11 22:12

    Not even a 5 year old doing finger painting could make as much mess as this. Sorry, but we have a bunch of as.holes running this country.

  • Baas Frik - 2011-09-12 05:53

    What do you expect if you appoint criminals as Ministers.

  • Dries - 2011-09-12 08:44

    Why is the female Cwele not in jail yet? The same reason comrade Winnie has not reported for her sentence yet? God will not help this country. He is not interested in African and with good reason too. Africa has its many spirits of its forefathers to help, so the Mighty Creator of the Universe is not needed. AND were those forefathers any more virtuous than the present? And soon the likes of Mugabe et al will join Amin and Mokaba and Dingane's spirits to advise and act.

  • daniel.w.gie - 2011-09-12 09:34

    she wont even go to jail .... watch .

      Verdade - 2011-09-12 17:32

      I agree!

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