Publication: City Press Issued: Date: 2003-09-13 Reporter: Elias Maluleke

Ngcuka Row Deepens



City Press

Date 2003-09-13


Elias Maluleke

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National director of public prosecutions, Bulelani Ngcuka, was granted a passport by the former apartheid government in 1981, despite being in detention on suspicion of high treason at the time.

This information was discovered a few years later by the ANC intelligence unit investigating Ngcuka following suspicions that he was an informer for apartheid security agencies.

City Press is in possession of former South African Police documents seized by ANC operatives working on Project Bible - the operation to identify "moles" in the liberation movement - which reveal Ngcuka was given written security clearance by the notorious security branch around the time of his arrest. City Press revealed last week ANC intelligence operatives working on Project Bible investigated Ngcuka to establish whether he was a police spy.

According to a report on Ngcuka written by Project Bible's operatives, Ngcuka was suspected of being registered with the security branch as a source with the codename RS452.

However, the writer of the report believes Ngcuka was recruited by the NIS and the "RS" number was used as a "false flag" to hide his identity.

Ngcuka has vehemently denied the allegations.

This week, Justice Minister Penuell Maduna announced he was heading a five-member interministerial committee which would probe the spy allegations against Ngcuka.

The committee is to submit a report to President Thabo Mbeki on the matter.

The allegations concerning Ngcuka come to the fore amidst a battle with Deputy President Jacob Zuma, the man who headed the ANC intelligence network at the time Project Bible was in progress.

Ngcuka's Scorpions unit investigated Zuma over a bribe he allegedly tried to solicit from a French arms company, giving rise to the biggest public furore to hit the government and ANC since the party came to power.

This week, more documents were uncovered by ANC intelligence operatives .

Members of the unit who conducted the probe say the documents relating to Ngcuka's passport were used to substantiate suspicions that he had an "irregular relationship" with the apartheid security agencies.

They reveal he was granted a passport, number P762297, on December 10, 1981.

At the time Ngcuka and nine other people were in custody for their role in acts of sabotage and high treason relating to the trial of ANC members Patrick Maqubela, Richard Maqhutyana and Mpumelelo Gaba.

On November 25 that year, the head office of the security branch had provided written security clearance to enable Ngcuka to receive a passport.

Five days later, the director of the reference bureau of the then department of co-operation and community development recommended that the department of internal affairs and immigration grant Ngcuka the passport.

This was astonishing as political prisoners and liberation fighters were subjected to severe travel restrictions.

Ngcuka was imprisoned for years for refusing to testify against Maqubela.

Five months after his release, he was able to use the same passport to travel to Switzerland to join his wife.

He also used the passport to freely re-enter South Africa despite his conviction and ANC activities.

Ngcuka's spokesperson, Sipho Ngwema, said yesterday he remembers his boss telling him about an "administrative error" committed by the security branch and home affairs officials which resulted in him (Ngcuka) being granted a passport.

"It was a question of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing," said Ngwema in reference to the apparent blunder by apartheid police and home affairs officials.

Meanwhile, City Press was told by ANC insiders the support Ngcuka received early in the week from retired police commissioner George Fivaz had raised eyebrows within ANC structures.

Fivaz said the accusations against Ngcuka could easily be a smear campaign.

A senior member of the ANC who spoke to City Press on condition of anonymity said "Fivaz is complicating things for Ngcuka. He could be well - meaning but throwing his support behind Ngcuka when Ngcuka's political party has been quiet thickens the plot."

With acknowledgements to Elias Maluleke and the City Press.