Publication: City Press Issued: Date: 2003-09-06 Reporter: Elias Maluleke

Was Ngcuka A Spy?


City Press

Date 2003-09-06


Elias Maluleke

Web Link


The head of the national directorate of public prosecutions (DPP) Bulelani Ngcuka was investigated by the exiled African National Congress in the late 1980s to establish whether he was an apartheid spy.

Documents leaked to City Press this week by a senior investigative journalist, which are said to have been sourced from the National Intelligence Agency (NIS) database, identify the head of the DPP as possibly, but not conclusively, an apartheid police spy nicknamed "Agent RS452".

According to the documents, including copies made from a microfilm, a Lieutenant K Z Edwards of the then notorious National Intelligence Services (NIS), was supposedly at one point Ngcuka's handler.

Ngcuka has declined to comment on the allegations.

Ngcuka's spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said it was Ngcuka's view that he would not comment on the spy allegations.

"We are aware various publications are sitting on such information, but our view is that we do not comment," Ngwema said.

However, he said the question that should be posed is why the so-called spy documents were only being leaked to media houses now, while the Scorpions were involved in sensitive investigations concerning the deputy president.

"Ngcuka has taken a stand that he would not comment on those spy allegations," Ngwema said.

Various sources confirmed the ANC had launched an investigation in the 1980s to finger suspected "moles" within its ranks and anti-apartheid structures.

A NIA senior director yesterday confirmed the existence of such a report but said this was top secret information.

Minister of National Intelligence Lindiwe Sisulu also declined to comment on the report.

Operation "Bible Project" which ran from 1986 to1993 was set up to track down agents within the liberation movement and police sources within the ANC.

Ngcuka was suspected by "Bible Project" as "Source RS452" who may have supplied information to the security branch and NIS.

According to the ANC intelligence report leaked to the media, agent RS452 was a "highly placed source that required special handling procedures".

It speculates that Ngcuka was recruited in the 70s as a NIS source.

The authenticity of the report and the investigation relating to Ngcuka were confirmed by three ANC operatives who worked on "Project Bible", who include a senior official in the presidency.

"Project Bible" also catered for the debriefing of moles in the apartheid security forces and the capturing of data about agents from police files.

Pictures were taken of stolen police files, converted into microfilms and sent to ANC headquarters in Lusaka for further investigation.

Former Transport Minister Mac Maharaj confirmed the existence of "Bible Project".

He said the project was initiated by the late ANC president Oliver Tambo.

The project was initiated to detect apartheid agents operating within the ANC and the mass democratic movement organisations within South Africa.

Maharaj said the project was directly supervised by Deputy President Jacob Zuma, the then head of ANC intelligence structures in Lusaka.

The intelligence unit within South Africa was headed by Moe Shaik - brother of Schabir Shaik - and supported by a unit in London. Schabir Shaik is a special adviser to Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The unit in South Africa had successfully penetrated the apartheid security forces, including the security branch, and various other state departments including home affairs.

It also worked closely with Operation Vula, headed by Maharaj.

According to Moe Shaik, the Bible Project was very successful in uncovering apartheid agents.

"By late 1989, the unit in South Africa had come to the conclusion that there was a basis for suspecting Bulelani Ngcuka as being RS452," Moe Shaik said.

He said it was later established Ngcuka had several identity numbers.

Such information was forwarded to Lusaka. Shaik said the records of the unit were placed in the safekeeping of NIA in 1994 and the information had been kept a secret until now.

Justice Minister Penuell Maduna said assertions that Ngcuka may have been a spy were never brought to his attention.

Ngcuka was appointed as the head of the DPP in 1998, under the then minister of justice Dullah Omar.

ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe said the report about Ngcuka's alleged background had never been discussed by the party.

With acknowledgements to Elias Maluleke and the City Press.