Publication: Cape Times Issued: Date: 2003-09-15 Reporter: Andre Koopman

Ngcuka Was Not a Spy - Ex-Security Branch Officer



Cape Times

Date 2003-09-15


Andre Koopman

Web Link


Bulelani Ngcuka, the head of the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), was not an apartheid spy, says the former security policeman alleged to have been his handler.

Former police special branch policeman Karl Edwards, a lieutenant-colonel, said Agent RS452 - who, according to former transport minister Mac Maharaj, was the Scorpions chief - had definitely not been Ngcuka.

Asked if he'd 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."

Sipho Ngwema, spokesman for the NDPP, said yesterday the agency had determined that Agent RS452 was a white woman and a lawyer who had been active in white left-wing circles and the United Democratic Front. The woman's name is known to Independent Newspapers.

Meanwhile, the Sunday newspaper that first ran the allegations sought yesterday to amplify the claims that Ngcuka had been a spy.

City Press said it had evidence that Ngcuka was given a passport by the apartheid regime in 1981 although he was in detention on suspicion of high treason.

Ngcuka's office has said this was an "administrative error" by the security branch and home affairs officials. Ngcuka had applied for a passport before he was detained in 1981 and it was posted to him when he had been in detention for about two weeks, said Ngwema.

Ngcuka's wife, Phumzile, kept the passport locked away without telling anyone about it. After his detention, Ngcuka was jailed for three years for refusing to testify against ANC member Patrick Maqubela and was released in 1985. He and his wife left the country in 1985 because the passport was about to expire.

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

Ngcuka has dismissed the spy allegations. He says they are part of the smear campaign waged against him since the Scorpions launched corruption investigations against prominent people.

Patricia de Lille, leader of the Independent Democrats, said it was strange that someone under investigation - Maharaj - had made the spy claims.

She questioned why such "important information", if true, had not been made public before. She decried the country's judicial instruments being drawn into what was "a political fight".

Sheila Camerer, Democratic Alliance spokeswoman on justice, said the battle between Ngcuka and the camp loyal to Deputy President Jacob Zuma looked set to go down to the wire, unless President Thabo Mbeki reconsidered his non-interventionist position. The fight was to the detriment of the legal system.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times said it had suspended senior political writer Ranjeni Munusamy as she had passed information on the spy allegations against Ngcuka to a rival publication.

Munusamy said in a statement yesterday she had been investigating, for several months, claims that the ANC was probing the spy allegations.

"As a senior political journalist, I saw it as my responsibility to uncover why ... the investigation into bribery allegations against Zuma had deteriorated into such a bitter and complex political fallout causing substantial damage to the ANC and government.

"My story was never that Ngcuka was a spy ... It was that he had been investigated by an ANC intelligence unit reporting to Zuma, then-head of ANC intelligence.

"The fact that there is a historical context to the relationship between Ngcuka and Zuma throws light on why the investigation has degenerated into such a brutal political war."

Sunday Times editor Mathatha Tsedu did not agree.

"He refused to run the story for five weeks and finally ... gave me permission to surrender the documents I had."

She had given the information to City Press as she believed publishing the story was "in the national interest and consistent with journalistic principles of objectivity and balance".-

With acknowledgements to Andre Koopman and the Cape Times.