#UnrestSA: Ministers Cele and Dlodlo at odds over intelligence report

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Bheki Cele pictured during a visit to KZN malls that were affected by looting.
Bheki Cele pictured during a visit to KZN malls that were affected by looting.
Gallo Images/Darren Stewart
  • Minister of State Security Ayanda Dlodlo said the State Security Agency provided intelligence reports to the police.
  • This after Minister of Police Bheki Cele said this did not happen. Opposition MPs are concerned about the discord in the security cluster.
  • Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said action would be taken against ministers breaking protocol.

Minister of State Security Ayanda Dlodlo and Minister of Police Bheki Cele are at odds over whether the police were provided with intelligence reports about the unrest that rocked KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng last week.

This, after Cele rejected Dlodlo's earlier claims that the State Security Agency (SSA) gave intelligence reports on the unrest to the police, when he addressed a meeting of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence and the Portfolio Committee on Police during their oversight visit to Chatsworth, Durban on Tuesday.

When asked why police failed to act on intelligence it received, Cele told MPs that he did not sign for any intelligence report from the SSA.

"It is you, the minister, who would have given the product to me. The minister of SSA could not give the product direct to the other DG. It would have come to me, and I would have given it to the national commissioner. I want to repeat here that I have never seen that product," he said.

READ | #UnrestSA: Bheki Cele says he did not receive an intelligence report from Dlodlo, SSA

He also said that Crime Intelligence would not have dealt with crimes against the state.

He said Crime Intelligence dealt with cash-in-transit heists and house break-ins.

Dlodlo told News24 on Tuesday that intelligence products were always shared with relevant structures, not people.

"Intelligence is shared with the police and other structures all the time."

Ayanda Dlodlo
Ayanda Dlodlo (Photo: Kopano Tlape)

At the daily media briefing on the unrest on Tuesday, acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni also said intelligence reports were shared.

Ntshavheni said:

There is coordination in the security cluster in terms of intelligence gathering, led by State Security, and that work continues, and the sharing of information continues. That's why the response has been effective.

Cele and Dlodlo contradicting each other on the intelligence report isn't the only instance of discord in the security cluster. 

On Sunday, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula contradicted President Cyril Ramaphosa by saying the unrest was not part of a failed insurrection. She had since backtracked from this statement. 

READ | ANALYSIS: Why did Mapisa-Nqakula contradict President's statement on unrest being an insurrection?

DA MP and spokesperson on police Andrew Whitfield said the situation about the intelligence report was "completely unacceptable".

"It is unacceptable if it is true, and it is unacceptable if it is untrue," Whitfield told News24 on Tuesday afternoon.

Andrew Whitfield during the State of the Nation Ad
Andrew Whitfield

He said Cele explained the process in detail and stated unequivocally that he never received an intelligence report and said the National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole also said he never received an intelligence report.

"It means SAPS is completely in the dark," said Whitfield.

Whitfield's concern was that the police would also be in the dark on future threats. He said he hoped Sitole had access to some intelligence.

Whitfield said it was an "unmitigated crisis" that there was discord among ministers in the security cluster, which suggested that politics were at play.  

"It appears the greatest threat is not outside Cabinet; it's inside Cabinet," he said.

FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald also expressed his concern and said Ramaphosa must get to the bottom of which one of his ministers was lying.

Pieter Groenewald. (Picture: Lulama Zenzile)

He said if critical intelligence wasn't handled correctly, it would have disastrous consequences, as seen last week in KwaZulu-Natal.

On the discord between the ministers in the security cluster, he said his view was that Ramaphosa should take decisive action against errant ministers. The minister who wasn't speaking the truth about the intelligence report should be fired.

He said:

How can your defence minister contradict you? She should be fired.

Ntshavheni said there would be consequences for ministers who "continue to breach the protocols" in communicating on the unrest.

"We have impressed on the colleagues that they must stick to the line and this hour is not the time to venture their own opinions, but we must communicate that which we all knew has happened and we must admit that there have been lessons that have to be learnt. We have learnt the lessons, and we have corrected them. It is not time for us to be going and throwing mud against each other and saying this has happened, this has not happened, and whatever.

READ | #UnrestSA: Ntshavheni says the jobs of 150 000 people are at risk

"But we all know the truth among ourselves, we all know what had to be done to recover ourselves. We all accepted that we were not necessarily ready when this thing happened, and we have recovered, and we must focus on that. And also, including our briefings that we do to the portfolio committees - which we must to account for our work - is not time for us to venture to our own opinions. We must stick to the facts at hand," she said.

"The ministers are aware of their role, and those who continue to breach the protocols will have to face the consequences of that breach of protocols as said by both Cabinet and also the security council."

khumbudzo ntshavheni
Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.

A joint statement from the co-chairpersons of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, Cyril Xaba and Mamagase Nchabeleng, and Portfolio Committee on Police chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson, didn't make any mention of Cele's claim that the police didn't receive an intelligence report.

However, the statement said the following: "The committees call for the strengthening of the Crime Intelligence community and better coordination between different segments of the intelligence apparatus, which is central to the prevention of crime. The lapses in intelligence are unacceptable and must be rectified urgently."

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