The State Security Agency (SSA) spent a total of R1 billion on former president Jacob Zuma’s “private force” of armed VIP protectors and related secret projects between 2012 and 2018, the Zondo commission heard on Thursday.
On her second day of testifying, secret witness Ms K said projects including Operation Commitment, Operation Justice/Simunye, Operation Lock, Operation Sesikhona and Project Mayibuye were used to channel SSA funds to a parallel intelligence structure engaged in unlawful operations, which appears to have been primarily undertaken for the personal and political benefit of Zuma and other high-ranking officials.
Ms K testified that then special operations boss Thulani Dlomo signed for millions of rands, which was above his powers.
“At the domestic branch the limit is R50 000, and R200 000 limit at the foreign branch, so it doesn’t matter how one looks at it, ambassador Dlomo didn’t have authority to sign off on this R10 million. This repeats itself in every project,” she said on Thursday.
“Records were not kept and where they were kept some were just a copy and paste for different projects and that accumulated for various departments from 2012 to 2018.”
According to her evidence, one of the projects used to ensure the safety of Zuma’s presidential aircraft took up 40% of the chief directorate for internal security’s budget of R48m and R38m in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years, respectively.
“This means that almost 40% of the chief directorate for internal security’s budget was redirected from other operational activities in order to meet the requirements of this project for the alleged protection of the presidential aircraft,” the commission heard.
She said former intelligence director-general Arthur Fraser stopped travel expenditure for agents who were employed to guard the president’s aircraft when President Cyril Ramaphosa took office.
Ms K also told the commission that under the central directorate for security operations (CDSO), a unit established by Dlomo, untrained people were employed unlawfully without going through proper recruitment procedures and were paid R40 000 cash every month.
“When former director-general Fraser arrived, it was said that he closed down CDSO, but some of the functions that were under CDSO continued, including the guarding of the presidential plane,” she said.
The functions of the unit included Zuma’s protection to guard his aircraft and to ensure he wasn’t poisoned.
The witness said not only were these projects unlawful in their establishment, purpose and operation, they were of little benefit to the SSA.
She also confirmed that the documentary motivation for the establishment of the projects was entirely inadequate and that their establishment documents contained only a generic reference to the SSA’s counter-intelligence mandate.
According to evidence presented before the commission, one of the implicated individuals confirmed that she personally delivered R4.5 million to former state security minister David Mahlobo’s office on at least three occasions under Operation Commitment.
Also on Thursday morning the Constitutional Court ruled that Zuma must appear before the commission, where he has been implicated by more than 30 witnesses in the state capture project.
Zuma was also ordered to pay the commission’s legal costs after he walked out of proceedings in November, which led to the Constitutional Court ruling.