Taxman trouble dogs Cyril Ramaphosa’s security chief

President Cyril Ramaphosa's bodyguard does not have top secret clearance. Picture: Lulama Zenzile/Netwerk24
President Cyril Ramaphosa's bodyguard does not have top secret clearance. Picture: Lulama Zenzile/Netwerk24

The security of President Cyril Ramaphosa and his deputy, David Mabuza, is the responsibility of a man who doesn’t have “top-secret” security clearance and who allegedly exercises “poor financial judgement”.

The State Security Agency has also refused Major General Wally Rhoode a top-secret security clearance certificate on the basis that he did not cooperate with their efforts to vet him.

A letter the agency sent in November to presidency director-general Cassius Lubisi, which City Press obtained, further indicates that Rhoode was refused security clearance because of his outstanding bills.

“A security clearance investigation to the level of TOP SECRET was conducted on Mr Rhoode WP and there were indications that the subject is exercising poor financial judgement. This is evidenced by the fact that he has against his name a substantial judgment in favour of the South African Revenue Service (Sars) as well as defaults against him by Absa and MTN,” the letter states.

“It was requested that Mr Rhoode should submit documentary proof of having settled the outstanding amount with Sars. To date, this has not yet been received. Based on the previous failed attempts and or correspondences with Mr Rhoode WP requesting him to submit official proof that the amount outstanding to the revenue services has indeed been settled and or arrangements made to that effect, the State Security Agency will not further process the aforementioned application for a security clearance.”

Rhoode joined the SAPS as a major general and chief of the presidential protection services at the beginning of June last year.

One of the requirements for the position was that the candidate should have top-secret security clearance.

A senior official in the presidential protection services, who spoke to City Press, said that it was anomalous for Rhoode, a member of the SAPS, to be vetted by the State Security Agency.

“He should have been vetted by the SAPS crime intelligence division. They are responsible for vetting all cops who need vetting. In any case, it is unimaginable that a guy who handles the president’s security, knows all the president’s movements, his diary and deals with a lot of sensitive information doesn’t have a security clearance,” he said.

“He has to be dismissed or redeployed to an environment which doesn’t require somebody with a top-secret security clearance.”

Another senior police officer sympathetic to Rhoode and his predicament said he was aware that Crime Intelligence’s counter-intelligence unit was in the final stages of vetting Rhoode and would soon issue him with a top-secret security clearance certificate.

But several sources – including a presidential protection services member and a senior staffer in the presidency – told City Press that Rhoode was appointed to the position because he is a “close aide” of Ramaphosa and worked for the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation before joining the police.

Rhoode also, they said, provided Ramaphosa with security when he was campaigning for the ANC’s presidency.

The two further accused Rhoode of wasting the police’s funds by flying to Cape Town to see his family “every second day”.

“He actually lives in Cape Town and flies to Pretoria to work a few times a week, all at the expense of the state,” said one police officer, adding that Rhoode should move to Pretoria where the unit’s head office is based.

Rhoode refused to comment and referred all queries to the presidency.

Ramaphosa’s spokesman, Khusela Diko, said “the presidency remains committed to the principles of transparency and openness in government, and wishes to assure City Press that the appointment of personnel to the presidency are made in accordance with relevant public service regulations”.

Diko said the presidential protection services, and the employment and vetting of the unit’s employees, was the responsibility of the police.

“Accordingly, all matters pertaining to the appointment of members of the presidential protection services (of which Major General Wally Rhoode is one) fall within the mandate and purview of the SAPS,” she said.

“The presidency does not wish to speculate on matters relating to the appointment of personnel to the presidential protection services. The presidency is, however, informed that Major General Rhoode was interviewed by the SAPS on or around May 22 2018 before he was appointed.

“The presidency has further been informed that Major General Rhoode’s security clearance is still being processed. We trust that the SAPS will conclude the matter urgently.”

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July 2020

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