Publication: City Press Issued: Date: 2003-09-21 Reporter: Jimmy Seepe, Mpumelelo Mkhabela

Ngcuka 'Turns to God'



City Press

Date 2003-09-21


Jimmy Seepe, Mpumelelo Mkhabela

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Johannesburg - The embattled director of public prosecutions, Bulelani Ngcuka, the subject of a judicial commission investigating whether he was a spy for the apartheid regime, has turned to God for spiritual comfort.

Ngcuka this week quoted a moving passage from the Bible when he asked God to plead his cause and fight against those fighting him.

His touching plea to God came when he addressed his staff in Pretoria on Wednesday at an emotional meeting he called to assure them he was not an apartheid spy.

His staffers told City Press they were greatly taken aback when Ngcuka, whom they did not know as a religious person, quoted from the Bible. Ngcuka read verses from Psalm 35 and 37. The first verse of Psalm 35 reads: "Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me; fight against them that fight against me."

The verse further reads: "Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me."

From Psalm 37, Ngcuka is said to have read verse 2: "For they shall soon be cut down like grass, and wither as the green herb."

Ngcuka's spokesperson, Sipho Ngwema, told City Press he could not confirm if his boss had read the verses as he was not at the meeting.

Ngwema, however, said Ngcuka has been in contact with religious leaders, who have given him a lot of support and offered prayers and scripture readings.

He said one priest from Mdantsane, near East London, had prayed with Ngcuka on the phone.

The prayers were offered in a week of political drama in which President Thabo Mbeki appointed a judicial commission of inquiry, headed by retired judge Josephus Francois Hefer, to probe the spy allegations against Ngcuka.

Ngcuka's past was first called into question by a report in City Press two weeks ago that he was once investigated by the exiled ANC to establish if he was a spy.

Hefer will be the only member of the commission, according to Justice Minister Penuell Maduna.

The commission's terms of reference are to inquire into, report on, and make recommendations on whether the national director of public prosecutions was, at any stage prior to 1994: registered with the security branch or any other security service of any pre-1994 government as an agent under the codename RS452 or any other codename; or if he was acting as an agent for the security police and/or national intelligence service of any pre-1994 government.

Maduna said the cabinet believed that dealing with the issue in this way would help all concerned to determine, demonstrate or prove whether Ngcuka had improperly, and in violation of the law, taken advantage of his office.

The decision to launch the probe comes at a time when Intelligence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu told parliament's standing committee on intelligence that allegations that certain individuals may have been spies during the apartheid era should in future be referred to state intelligence agencies, and particularly to the inspector-general.

She said the cabinet had discussed how to deal with allegations of this sort and decided the intelligence agencies should handle them. But she had not yet discussed with intelligence staff how this should be done. The government's chief spokesperson, Joel Netshitenzhe, said the inquiry would ensure the matter was "brought to rest" and prevent witch-hunts.

Maduna said the commission would not be inquiring into the national prosecution authority or any directorate or division, and would not affect the office's daily activities or Ngcuka's functions.

Meanwhile, Sisulu will know at the end of September whether she can release the names of apartheid-era spies contained in classified documents of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The declassification committee, which was appointed to investigate the possible release of classified information, confirmed that it would also make recommendations on whether to release the names of spies.

The committee's chairperson, Professor Bernard Magubane, said the committee had visited five countries which had faced difficulty in how to handle the issue of secret information during their transition, including Germany, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Only the Czech Republic had publicly released the names of spies.

In a further twist to the Zuma-Ngcuka debacle, Sisulu indicated that investigations were continuing into how details of a cabinet meeting were leaked to the media.

This follows reports of an altercation at a cabinet meeting between Zuma and Maduna, who, as head of the prosecution authority, had apparently threatened to resign after Zuma berated him.

With acknowledgements to Jimmy Seepe, Mpumelelo Mkhabela and the City Press.