Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2003-09-15 Reporter: Sapa

Ngcuka Had A Passport, Says Paper



Mail and Guardian

Date 2003-09-15



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Johannesburg-based newspaper City Press on Sunday had another exclusive story on Scorpions boss Bulelani Ngcuka's alleged ties with the former apartheid regime.

It was the second week the paper led with a story about Ngcuka having been a spy for the apartheid government.

The newspaper claimed to be in possession of a South African police document that was seized by African National Congress operatives, which revealed that Ngcuka had been granted a passport while in detention.

ANC intelligence operatives who were working on Project Bible, which was launched to root out so-called moles working for the former National Party government, allegedly investigated Ngcuka to establish whether he was a police spy.

Ngcuka's past became news in the weeks after the Scorpions boss announced that Deputy President Jacob Zuma would not be prosecuted for allegedly soliciting a bribe from a French company in the multibillion-rand arms deal, although there was enough prima facie evidence to take Zuma to court.

Last week's allegations that Ngcuka had been a police spy were corroborated by former transport minister Mac Maharaj, who is also under investigation by the Scorpions.

According to the police document Ngcuka was granted a passport, although severe travel restrictions were in place against known ANC operatives. He was in detention at the time the passport was granted.

Ngcuka spent years in prison for refusing to testify against an ANC member, Patrick Maqubela. Five months after his release he used the passport he was given to travel to Switzerland where he joined his wife.

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

Ngcuka's spokesperson, Sipho Ngwema, on Saturday denied the allegations that his boss had been an apartheid government spy.

He confirmed that Ngcuka had been given a passport while he was in prison. He had applied for the passport because he was arrested, Ngwema said.

Ngwema said the passport was granted due to an "administrative error" on the sides of the security branch and the then department of home affairs.

Ngcuka denied through Ngwema that he had had any links with the former National Intelligence Service, including the man who had been cited as Ngcuka's handler, Lieutenant K Edwards.

Ngcuka's wife, Phumzile, collected the passport from the couple's private post box and kept it locked away without talking to anyone about it. When Ngcuka was released from prison, he used it to travel to Switzerland where he worked for the International Labour Organisation.

Ngcuka also said he was not aware of any security clearance given to him because he "did not apply for any".

Ngwema said that all the allegations against Ngcuka were "devoid of any truth". He said Ngcuka never was a spy and that "the truth will come out one day".

With acknowledgements to Sapa and the Mail & Guardian.