Spy boss Thulani Dlomo resurfaces after months-long disappearance

2019-11-05 12:51
Former Ambassador to Japan and State Security Agency boss, Thulani 'Silence' Dlomo in 2018. (Photo from South African Embassy in Japan, Facebook)

Former Ambassador to Japan and State Security Agency boss, Thulani 'Silence' Dlomo in 2018. (Photo from South African Embassy in Japan, Facebook)

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After being absent without leave for months since his recall from the post of ambassador to Japan in February, spy boss Thulani Dlomo has resurfaced.

But Dlomo has not returned to work. Instead he emerged to give an exclusive interview to an Independent Media journalist.

Dlomo, nicknamed "Zuma's spy", was the head of the controversial Special Operations Unit and is reported to be close to former President Jacob Zuma.

He was fired in recent weeks after months away from the job, News24 reported.

But now, Dlomo says he will challenge the dismissal in court. He has not been absent, but merely off sick, he claims.

Dlomo's lawyer Philani Shangase confirmed to News24 on Tuesday that his client had proof that he had submitted sick notes from his doctor to the SSA.

READ | Shadowy ring of spies who reported directly to Zuma still active

Shangase also confirmed his client's intention to drag the SSA to court as soon as he received the actual termination letter.

"I have sent two emails requesting the dismissal letter," Shangase said. "But I have received no response. Perhaps they are busy sorting it out," he added.

SSA spokesperson Mava Scott said: "The SSA stands by its initial position on the matter and the former member can exercise his rights if he elects to do so."

Shady character

Dlomo and Shangase met a reporter from the Daily News at an undisclosed location recently to deny claims over his dismissal and absence, largely reported by News24.

An article was initially published on October 31 on IOL, but a strikingly similar story was again published on November 4.

Last week, News24 went to Durban in an attempt to locate Dlomo, who could not be found at multiple addresses he has used over the past few years.

READ | Thulani Dlomo's not home: On the trail of SA's most famous spy

One article includes a description and picture of Dlomo dressed all in black, with black sunglasses and a black cap, as well as a black leather jacket, in a non-descript underground parking lot.

History of subterfuge

Dlomo previously headed up the SSA's controversial Special Operations Unit. In 2013, he was promoted to the position of deputy director general in charge of counter intelligence.

In 2017, he was appointed to the position of ambassador to Japan after National Treasury came knocking on the SSA's door for explanations over R1.5bn, allegedly mostly spent by Dlomo's SOU, and unaccounted for.

News24 understands that Dlomo was recalled from his ambassadorial post by President Cyril Ramaphosa following the finalisation of the Mufamadi Panel's report.

The report made sweeping findings of widespread abuses within the country's civilian spy agency, the SSA.

READ | The curious case of Ambassador Thulani 'Silence' Dlomo

Among these were findings that elements of the SSA were used for political battles, in some cases evidence was found that SSA agents were spying on Ramaphosa in the run-up to the ANC elective conference in December 2017.

More recently, News24 revealed the content of a recorded conversation by the Inspector General of Intelligence Sethlomamaru Dintwe and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Dintwe reveals that his office was dealing with a large number of "agents" recruited by Dlomo for the SOU, and who were simply left out in the cold after he went to Japan.

These agents, some positioned at state-owned enterprises like Prasa, Eskom and Transnet, as well as the SAPS, are seeking resolutions to their employment at the SSA.

Dintwe has also confirmed to former SARS official Johann van Loggerenberg that his office was investigating several SSA officials, including Dlomo, for their and the SOU's role in the capture of SARS - in particular the creation of the "rogue unit" narrative. 

*Do you have a tip for our investigative journalists? Send an email to tips@24.com

Read more on:    state security agency  |  thulani dlomo  |  state capture  |  corruption
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