Dlodlo to head to court to remove classified intelligence report central to Public Protector's rogue unit investigation - report

Ayanda Dlodlo (GCIS, file)
Ayanda Dlodlo (GCIS, file)

A bid by State Security minister Ayanda Dlodlo could provide a boost to Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan in clearing his name following findings made by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in her South African Revenue Services (SARS) 'rogue unit' report, according to the City Press. 

The publication reports that Dlodlo is preparing to head to the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria for an interlocutory application to have a report of the inspector-general of intelligence removed from the court papers of the EFF as it contains sensitive information.

READ | Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane withdraws ConCourt appeal

The EFF was party to Gordhan's interdict application. 

"The report contains secret information exposing the identities of members and former intelligence members and sources and methods of the agency, which is protected from publication by the law," State Security spokesperson Mava Scott said. 

Mkhwebane's acting spokesperson Oupa Segalwe told City Press that the Public Protector will oppose the application as it central to the case against Gordhan.

He added that the Mkhwebane is not interested in the sensitive details contained in the report. 

"As far as the Public Protector is concerned, that information can be redacted, and the report made available to court in a redacted format," he said. 

PP's findings into Gordhan

In July Mkhwebane released her findings of her investigation into the SARS "rogue unit" in which she instructed Ramaphosa to discipline Gordhan for his authorisation of the establishment of the unit while he was SARS commissioner, reported News24.

She found the unit to have been illegal, that it engaged in illegal activities, and that he lied about a meeting with a member of the Gupta family.

Gordhan then hit back filing an urgent application asking the court to interdict Mkhwebane's remedial action against him and set aside her findings. 

Pretoria High Court Judge Sulet Potterill put a hold Mkhwebane's remedial action including that Ramaphosa take disciplinary action against the minister, pending Gordhan's challenge to her report, according to Mail and Guardian.

Mkhwebane later withdrew her application for leave to appeal the ruling, however, the EFF is continuing with its appeal on the matter.

Decline to prosecute

Earlier this year News24 reported that the Hawks had announced that Mkhwebane and former state security minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba would not face prosecution in cases that the two had laid against each other, after the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation declined to prosecute. 

Letsatsi-Duba opened a criminal case against Mkhwebane, charging her with theft of information and violation of South Africa’s security laws, after she allegedly laid her hands on the classified state document, according to City Press.

According to the publication, low-key warfare developed between Mkhwebane and Letsatsi-Duba after numerous exchanges of correspondence and a meeting between the two failed to resolve a dispute that can be traced back to the allegations of the rogue unit and factional bickering within the ANC.

Central to the dispute, was a classified investigative report belonging to the State Security Agency (SSA), which Letsatsi-Duba's predecessor David Mahlobo had commissioned in 2014 - through the inspector-general of intelligence (IGI) - to look into media allegations of illegal operations by the spooks to destabilise SARS.

The report also dealt with issues at SARS that needed closer scrutiny. The inspector-general could not probe these because the office did not have a mandate over the revenue agency.

According to City Press, Mkhwebane had repeatedly tried to get the report officially from Letsatsi-Duba.

The publication later learnt that a copy was "leaked" to the Public Protector by unidentified people.

Letsatsi-Duba then approached the police in an attempt to get the copy back. A criminal complaint was lodged against Mkhwebane regarding illegal possession of classified information.

'Subjected to a thorough investigation'

According to News24, Mkhwebane opened a counter-charge against Letsatsi-Duba over her alleged interference with the functioning of the office of the Public Protector.

The charges were laid on March 13, in Brooklyn, Pretoria.

According to Mkhwebane, Letsatsi-Duba had failed to make available a declassified document that she required in connection with an investigation into alleged violation of the Executive Members' Ethics Code by Gordhan.

- compiled by Vanessa Banton

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