Security clearance of intelligence watchdog head restored on eve of court application

2018-04-19 17:56
Setlhomamaru Dintwe. (Alicestine October, Netwerk24)

Setlhomamaru Dintwe. (Alicestine October, Netwerk24)

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State Security Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba restored full security clearance to Inspector-General of Intelligence, Setlhomamaru Dintwe.

The minister's move came at the 11th hour as an application for a court order to prevent Arthur Fraser, former director general of the State Security Agency (SSA), from interfering with, among other things, investigations that involved him, was about to go to court.

Dintwe brought the application last week and alleged that Fraser tried to withdraw his security clearance. Fraser allegedly also interfered in Dintwe's work while he investigated a complaint against him.

However, in a statement on Thursday, the Office of the Inspector-General said: "On the eve of the hearing of the Inspector General's urgent application, the Minister of State Security set aside the erstwhile director general's withdrawal of the Inspector General's security clearance.

"The minister and the acting director general has further confirmed that the Inspector General will be provided with all classified information required for the execution of his functions. The Inspector General is grateful for the Minister’s intervention in the matter and will immediately continue with the execution of his functions."

Dintwe, was supposed to take the urgent application to the Palace of Justice, which houses the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, on Thursday, even though Fraser was transferred to the Department of Correctional Services on Tuesday.

READ: Fraser mum on new post during budget meeting in Parliament

In court papers, Dintwe said he wanted an urgent interim order to prevent Fraser from acting unconstitutionally, illegally and in bad faith.

On Thursday morning, Judge Cornelius van der Westhuizen entered the courtroom, read out a judgment in another case and adjourned immediately after, News24 sister website Netwerk24 reported.

Surprised journalists reliably learnt from the judge's clerk that the applicant and respondents had to meet with the deputy judge president, the report said.

The parties' legal teams discussed the events outside court, but told the media that they could not comment or explain what happened.

The IGI's office said in its statement: "The Minister and the acting director general have both undertaken to the court and the Inspector General, that they will not interfere with and cooperate with the Inspector General's investigations.

The IG welcomed these undertakings and commitments.

"It is of critical importance that the Inspector General must be protected from any interference with the execution of his constitutional mandate," it said.

"The Inspector General has therefore applied to the High Court for a declaration that several sections of the Intelligence Services Oversight Act are unconstitutional. This application remains before Court and will be heard on a date to be determined. The Inspector General will engage with the newly appointed acting director general, the Minister and the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence with a view to reaching consensus on a legislative framework that would enable the Inspector General to properly execute his constitutional mandate."

Dintwe was represented by Tembeka Ngcukaitobi and Isabella Kentridge. Fraser was represented by Muzi Sikhakhane.

Read more on:    arthur fraser  |  dipuo letsatsi-duba

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