Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils won’t “succumb to intimidation by the security services” by keeping silent on state capture and corruption.
On November 8, State Security Agency director-general Arthur Fraser sent a letter to Kasrils, asking him to “desist from ventilating matters in media in a manner that may transgress the relevant intelligence statutes or any other legislation, and which will leave the State Security Agency and myself with no option but to seek redress in the appropriate legal forum”.
In the letter, which was on the official State Security Agency letterhead, Fraser sought to “remind” Kasrils of the position of intelligence minister which he once held, and that he not “divulge any secret matter entrusted to you”.
Kasrils responded through his lawyer, stating there was no legal reason why he couldn’t participate in public debate on any matter, including on security and intelligence related matters.
The correspondence between Kasrils and Fraser unfolded following damning revelations in Jacques Pauw’s book, The President’s Keeper, in which he alleges that Fraser forged the signature of Kasrils, who was intelligence minister at the time, in order to purchase warehouses and spy equipment.
Pauw, in his book, also revealed that Fraser was complicit in running a parallel intelligence network, and that after an internal investigation was conducted by the State Security Agency, Fraser was to be charged with treason for his role in the running of the principal agent network.
On November 7, Kasrils said that his lawyers were in the process of reviewing the allegations which were revealed in the book against Fraser, with Fraser denying the allegations.
In his letter to Kasrils, Fraser said: “Before my letter is misconstrued in the media as an attempt to silence you, I address this letter simply to request that you raise matters that pertain to your tenure as the minister for intelligence services responsible for the National Intelligence Agency, as it was during your term, with the relevant oversight structures, including the inspector-general of intelligence and the joint standing committee on intelligence established in terms of the Intelligence Services Oversight Act.”
Kasril’s lawyer, Moray Hathorn from Webber-Wentzel, sent a response to Fraser on November 27, but hasn’t received a response from Fraser.
In the response, Kasril’s lawyers point out that as a former Cabinet minister and public figure, he is often in the public spotlight and not engaging in public debate is “unreasonable and would breach his fundamental right to freedom of speech.”
“There is no legal reason why our client cannot participate in public debate on any matter, including on security and intelligence related matters,” the letter reads.
Kasril’s lawyers have also requested Fraser to make specific reference to public comments that Kasrils has made in the media.
They have also questioned why the letter was sent by Fraser “as a member of the State Security Agency, and not the minister or deputy minister of state security”.
They have asked Fraser to clarify whether the letter was sent with the minister's knowledge and if they approved of the letter.
Kasrils said that he was releasing the communication in the matter of public interest.
“It is important that as citizens we demonstrate that we will not succumb to intimidation by the security services who are palpably failing our democracy, Constitution and people as was the case during the apartheid era.
“At this dark and sinister period in our country’s history, in which we face grave dangers to the democracy we sacrificed so much for, it is imperative we stand up against the crimes and corruption of Jacob Zuma’s kleptocracy and expose to the light of day those involved,” Kasrils said.