Publication: The Star Issued: Date: 2003-09-15 Reporter: Andre Koopman

Ex-policeman Claims Ngcuka is in the Clear



The Star

Date 2003-09-15


Andre Koopman

Web Link


Bulelani Ngcuka, head of the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions, wasn't an apartheid spy.

So says the former security policeman who is alleged to have been his handler.

Former Special Branch policeman Lieutenant-Colonel Karl Edwards on Sunday told The Star that Agent RS452 - who according to former transport minister Mac Maharaj was the NDPP chief - was definitely not Ngcuka.

Asked if he had ever had dealings with Ngcuka as an apartheid-era spy, or if he had been aware that Ngcuka was a spy, he said: "No, not at all".

NDPP spokesperson Sipho Ngwema confirmed on Sunday that the agency had managed to determine that Agent RS452 was a white woman, a lawyer active in white left-wing circles and the United Democratic Front.

Her name is known to Independent newspapers.

City Press said in a front-page report that it had evidence that Ngcuka was granted a passport by the apartheid government in 1981, despite being in detention on suspicion of high treason.

Ngcuka's office has described the move as an "administrative error" by the Security Branch and Home Affairs Department officials.

He applied for a passport before he was detained in 1981, and the document was posted to him when he had been in detention for about two weeks, said Ngwema.

Ngcuka's wife, Phumzile, collected the passport from their post box and kept it locked away without telling anybody.

When Ngcuka was released in 1985, the couple left the country because the passport was about to expire, Ngwema said.

After his detention, Ngcuka was imprisoned for three years for refusing to testify against ANC member Patrick Maqubela. He was released in 1985.

Ngwema said it would have been "very stupid" of the security police to keep Ngcuka in prison for five years if he had been one of their spies.

He also pointed out that Edwards had been active in the Eastern Cape, while Ngcuka had been based in Durban and later Cape Town.

Commenting on allegations that Ngcuka had spied on the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (Nadel), Ngwema said Ngcuka had joined Nadel in 1987 - long after the period he was alleged to have spied on the organisation.

Ngcuka has dismissed allegations he was a spy, saying the allegations were part of the smear campaign that had been waged against him since the Scorpions launched corruption investigations into prominent people, including highly-placed members of the ANC.

The leader of the Independent Democrats, Patricia de Lille, who first raised allegations of corruption in the arms deal, said on Sunday it was strange that the person being investigated for alleged corruption (Maharaj) had been the one to make the spy allegations.

She questioned the timing of the move and said it appeared to be self-serving.

De Lille also questioned why such "important information", if true, had not been made public before.

She decried the fact that the country's judicial instruments were being drawn into what was "clearly a political fight".

The matter only served to divert attention from investigations into corruption in the multibillion-rand arms deal, De Lille said.

Sheila Camerer, the Democratic Alliance's spokesperson on justice, said the no-holds-barred fight in the ANC between the camp loyal to Deputy President Jacob Zuma and the forces around Scorpions boss Ngcuka looked likely to go down to the wire before a "horrified national audience" unless President Thabo Mbeki quickly reconsidered his position on non-intervention.

South Africans were aghast at the "bloodletting in the ANC and the vicious way in which they fight each other, which is clearly to the detriment of our legal system and our constitutionally entrenched institutions supporting the rule of law," she said.

Commenting on the latest City Press article, she said the "dirty-tricks-type" claims should be seen for what they were - "a further smear (of Ngcuka)".

Camerer said Zuma disingenuously complained that his name could not be cleared because of Ngcuka's decision not to prosecute him.

In fact, Ngcuka had indicated Zuma may still be prosecuted and in the meantime, "there is nothing that prevents him from telling his side of the story to the whole nation".

"We are listening. Why are you so silent, Mr Zuma?" asked Camerer.

With acknowledgements to Andre Koopman and The Star.