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WRAP | Zondo commission welcomes ConCourt judgment against Zuma, says no one is above the law

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29 January 15:56

The commission has wrapped up for the day. It will continue next week, where the commission will hear evidence related to parliamentary oversight.

29 January 15:54

Miss K has wrapped up her testimony. Justice Zondo informed her that she may be called back in the future.

In parting, she tells the commission that the "majority of officials within SSA are patriots, qualified and committed and all they want to do is work and serve."

29 January 15:49

JUST IN | Zondo commission welcomes ConCourt judgment against Zuma, says no one is above the law

A statement said:

The Commission welcomes the judgment of the Constitutional Court that was handed down yesterday. In particular the Commission is pleased that the Court has made the order that it has made against Mr Zuma. 

The Commission believes that the judgment upholds the rule of law and emphasises that no one is above the law.

It is also of great importance that the Court has made it clear that in proceedings of the Commission a witness has no right to remain silent and has emphasised that a witness who invokes the privilege against self-incrimination must demonstrate how an answer to the question asked would breach the privilege and that there are sufficient grounds that, in answering the question, the witness will incriminate himself or herself in the commission of a specified crime.

The Commission will take steps to get the judgment and order of the Constitutional Court served on Mr Jacob Zuma.

29 January 15:39

Inquiry hears evidence that there was a glaring nexus between flouting of SSA recruitment processes, the circumvention of vetting processes and the parallel training initiatives on one hand and the illegal access to SSA firearms that this parallel spy structure had.

The SSA gave 39 guns – including machine guns and Uzzis – to individuals whose training and security vetting and competence were highly questionable. Guns were given out without the “special operations” agents receiving formal training.

- Karyn Maughan

29 January 15:27

Fraser’s vetting file does not contain the results of his polygraph test – or the graph that accompanied it.

The vetting evaluator was forced to conduct Fraser’s vetting without having access to the normal tools he would use. He recommended that Fraser be re-vetted. The police also stated that Fraser’s criminal record check was falsified.

Investigators found that Fraser’s vetting process had been manipulated to ensure that he quickly obtained security clearance. Three officials involved in that vetting subsequently received promotions.

- Karyn Maughan

29 January 15:23

Inquiry now hearing evidence that the vetting of former SSA Director-General Arthur Fraser was “irregular”.

Fraser’s entire vetting process was conducted by officials who were involved in the now notorious PAN programme – a project in which Fraser was allegedly heavily and illegally involved. All witness accounts confirm that this vetting took place within three days – weeks before he was appointed – and was an incredibly quick process defined by multiple alleged irregularities.

- Karyn Maughan

29 January 15:18

Mr Y has expressed concern that parallel vetting system fell under spy boss Thulani Dlomo’s control – as he had recruited the potential spies that were to be vested.

This amounted to a “clear conflict of interest”. Bizarrely, Dlomo was not vetted when he was appointed to his general manager position at the SSA and subsequently appears to have obtained a top secret security clearance through the parallel vetting structure he had created.

- Karyn Maughan

29 January 15:07

Approximately 162 files were submitted to the SSA’s Chief Directorate Vetting and Security Advising, but a statement from Mr Y says this is “unlikely to be the full set” as other files were bought to the attention of investigators.53 files were complete, while 109 files contained incomplete documentation.

53 cases indicated no deception, while 103 files did not contain polygraph results.

- Karyn Maughan

29 January 14:54

Zondo Inquiry now hearing evidence that a “parallel vetting structure” was set up by spy boss Thulani Dlomo in October 2013. It would “vet selected individuals” and was run by an agent codenamed “Mandy”. Although Mandy was a seasoned vetting officer, Ms K agrees that her team failed to follow basic vetting processes. Vetting is a crucial process by which individuals are cleared for work in government and given access to classified documentation. It is therefore pivotal that it is done efficiently and effectively

- Karyn Maughan

29 January 14:35

Parallel and irregular vetting process: Ms K says she can confirm vetting files were received and they were able to analyse the files, who the vetting officers involved were and the completeness of the files.

29 January 13:58

Spies found many media houses 'immune' to recruitment or price was too high, Ms K tells Zondo inquiry

Many of the media houses that State Security Agency (SSA) operatives tried to recruit for its "Project Wave" either wanted too much money, or were alert to such approaches and rebuffed them, the commission of inquiry on state capture heard on Friday. 

Evidence leader Advocate Paul Pretorius said this was revealed in a progress report found in an SSA safe which listed its "challenges" and "achievements" under the project.

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29 January 13:16

Ms K says the “funds availability check” used to ensure that SSA did not overspend on its budget was switched off by the Agency’s then Chief Financial Officer – enabling operatives to get huge cash advances even when allocated budgets had been already been exhausted. Budget controllers were completely disempowered. Records of how money was spent were often absent.

In one instance, an agent named “Helen” withdrew over two million Euros on 12 June 2017, with then SSA DG Arthur Fraser’s authorisation – with no record of who the recipient would be. This matter is still under investigation.

- Karyn Maughan

29 January 12:51

Ms K says there is a possibility that the private companies that the SSA, under Thulani Dlomo, entered into intelligence contracts with “never did anything” and their primary purpose was to create invoices.

Pretorius: to steal money?

Ms K: yes, that is our assessment

29 January 12:30

Mr Y has told the Inquiry that R1.5 billion of taxpayers’ money was spent on legally questionable and poorly documented “covert operations” between 2012 and 2018.

Evidence led at the Inquiry has clearly exposed how secrecy provisions were abused to ensure that the expenditure linked to this operations were not properly recorded or justified.

- Karyn Maughan

29 January 12:26

Pretorius refers to reports that certain spies from the “special operations” unit were seen at the ANC’s Nasrec elective conference in 2017 – despite the fact that the unit was supposed to no longer be operational.

There is an ongoing investigation into the SSA’s alleged withdrawal of R19 million in cash on 15 December 2017 in relation to the conference, which took place from 16-20 December 2017.

Records appear to show a breakdown of this expenditure: R5 million was withdrawn under the name “Kingmaker”, R7.9 million under “Bra J”, R900 000 under “Vele”, R 360 under the name “Fly Sofa”.

Ms K says this list isn’t sufficient to show the money was expended.

- Karyn Maughan

29 January 11:53

Evidence leader Paul Pretorius says SSA documentation reveals how spies were deployed to ensure that the ANC Manifesto launch in March 2016 was not disrupted by dissident groups. According to a report being read by Pretorius, “the co-workers also conducted a media campaign to provide positive media feedback through the placement of youths of various ethnic groups in photographic view of media personnel, thereby promoting social cohesion”.

- Karyn Maughan

29 January 11:49

Pretorius details some of the “special operations” allegedly undertaken under Fraser’s watch and described in a “performance review” report:

- Three operations to impede the distribution of CR17 regalia and impede transportation system of “dissident groups” from Gauteng province

- “ensure the cancellation of the President [Zuma’s] visit to Marikana, after an incorrect threat assessment was provided to local and SAPS agents”.

- The special operations team provided “alternative facts in terms of the treat on the ground”, leading then Minister of State Security David Mahlobo visiting Marikana and confirming the threat to him. Zuma’s planned visit to the area was then cancelled

- Special operations members managed to penetrate the Zuma Must Fall movement and claimed that, through “misinformation”, they managed to ensure that only 50 demonstrators pitched up at Zuma’s 2016 State of the Nation Address.

- Karyn Maughan

29 January 11:31

Miss K confirms that, as expenditure by Fraser's office skyrocketed, money allocated to SSA provincial offices were cut by 50%. ‘This where we need boots on the ground”, she said. In other words, money that should have been spent on detecting security threats like xenophobic attacks, growing civil unrest and terrorism were being funneled towards Fraser's projects – which Miss K confirms may have been “special purpose vehicles” designed to “facilitate looting”. There was no “justifiable reason” for Fraser to run operations from his office, she says.

- Karyn Maughan

29 January 11:03

Miss K confirms that, after Arthur Fraser took over as SSA Director-General from Sonto Kudjoe, the expenditure recorded of the DG’s office jumped from R42 million in 2016 to R303 million in 2017. It was striking, Mr Y stated, that roughly 74% of this R303million was spent on “covert” operations – meaning that there would be very little detail on how exactly this money was spent. The remaining money was spent on “contact expenditure” and travel. This concentration of the funds in Fraser’s office came at the expense of “legitimate operations”, Miss K confirms.

- Karyn Maughan

29 January 10:49

There is evidence that certain individuals within the media did receive money as part of the SSA's “Project Wave” – which was aimed at securing positive reporting about the Zuma administration – evidence leader Paul Pretorius states. But he tells DCJ Zondo he would prefer to lead that evidence once it has been considered.

- Karyn Maughan

29 January 10:39

R24 million was allocated to Project Water, and the same amount in the 2015/16 financial year. R20 million was raised by Apricot (pseudonym name) for services rendered. This has been rendered unnecessary by previous evidence.

Ms K confirms the invoices of the payments, and points out aspects of the invoice: There are two separate invoices of R10 million each, dated March 2016, and June 2016, respectively. But are actually addressed to the attention of Thulani Dlomo. But the invoices were only actually paid in January 2017.

29 January 10:23

Ms K is present and ready to continue testifying before the commission. 

Pretorius immediately picks up where they left off: Paragraph 6.57


29 January 10:22

The commission kicks off for the day. 

28 January 16:15

The commission has adjourned for the day. They will continue at 10:00 on Friday.

28 January 15:52

28 January 15:50

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28 January 14:55

An operation was conceived and the operation involved withdrawals of cash on a monthly basis and this cash was delivered on more than one occasion to Mr Mdlodo and this cannot be taken further than the investigations, Miss K agrees. 

28 January 14:53

Project Mayibuye was the umbrella project, comprised of several other operations, namely:

Operation Commitment

Operation Justice/ Simunye (This included influencing, handling of resources within the judiciary. Sources being members of the judiciary. Allegedly included the influence of the outcome of cases. Project Justice was a continuation of the Project Simunye)

Operation Lock

Operation Sesikhona

28 January 14:49

Miss K has highlighted a 20816, December submission created to request then DG Arthur Fraser to waive the advertising and appointment processes of 33 people attached to Project Construcao. After CSO took charge, this project was extended on several occasions thereafter. CSO took over in September of the following year, and "co-workers" were made in September 2018.

28 January 13:14

It is important to draw a distinction between a submission, to establish a Cover Project it will have a time frame of a year accompanied by an operational plan, which has more detail and is attached to the submission. For a Deep-Cover Project you would not be divulging there. There is a submission, once approved, that people write just to withdraw funds from an already approved project budget.

It doesn’t matter how one looks at it, ambassador Dlomo didn't have authority to sign off the R10 million and this repeats itself in every project.

The commission adjourns for lunch. 

28 January 12:41

Miss K confirms that most individuals were recruited from KwaZulu-Natal, criteria followed remains unclear.

She also confirmed that Zuma requested that younger members be trained. During an interview, Frank said the project was linked to the VIP protection being made available to high-ranking officials. These recruits were also deployed to other projects such as Project Lock, Miss K adds.

28 January 12:09

Miss K on a breach of financial prescripts:

When you look at estimated amount, it doesn’t give a breakdown of money being requested. If you are requesting money, it should be broken down into line items as to how it would be used. If there is no APP, and the budget cannot be loaded against that unit, how are you going to justify these line items? They take these submissions and sometimes it skips the budget controller, there were budget controls being bypassed.

Money would be taken and although CDSO was overspending they still had to make sure there’s money for these projects even if it meant taking money from other structures within the SSA.

28 January 11:45

In 2016 when CDSO was closed, the Core Support Unit was moved, but fell under the office of the Director-General with a new person appointed to lead it.

Zondo asks if it was performing the same function as it did before 2016, Miss K requests to reverse comment on the matter.

28 January 11:26

The revelations about a rogue ring of spies, reporting directly to Zuma and accountable to no one, isn't new. It was part of the protracted legal battle related to the SARS High-risk Investigation Unit (HRIU). This is our report from 2019, why was nothing done about it? 

- Pieter du Toit

28 January 11:24

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

Spies from the State Security Agency's (SSA) controversial Special Operations Unit reported directly to former president Jacob Zuma, according to the Inspector General of Intelligence (IGI).

This unit was commanded by Thulani Dlomo, considered by many in the intelligence community to be "Zuma's spy", who has now gone missing and has been declared absent without leave by the SSA.

Zuma rewarded him with the ambassadorship to Japan, but he was recalled earlier this year by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

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