Publication: Sunday Times Issued: Date: 2003-09-21 Reporter: S'Thembiso Msomi

Round One in Spy Inquiry



Sunday Times

Date 2003-09-21


S'Thembiso Msomi

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Former transport minister Mac Maharaj says he will co-operate fully with the one-man commission of inquiry appointed on Friday to investigate allegations that National Director of Public Prosecutions, Bulelani Ngcuka, spied for the apartheid state.

Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Penuell Maduna announced on Friday that President Thabo Mbeki had appointed former Supreme Court of Appeal president Justice Josephus Francois Hefer as the only member of the commission.

Hefer is to investigate whether Ngcuka was "registered with the security branch or any other security service" before 1994, as an agent "under the code name RS452" or any other code name, Maduna said in a statement.

Hefer, a former Transkei Chief Justice, is expected to report back to Mbeki within a month. He has powers to publish his interim report, Maduna said.

Allegations that Ngcuka was once investigated by the exiled ANC as a possible spy in the 1980s emerged two weeks ago.

Ngcuka has, in recent months, been embroiled in a number of bitter battles with high-ranking ANC members - who include Maharaj and Deputy President Jacob Zuma - over his elite unit's handling of the arms deal investigations.

Maharaj, the first prominent figure to go on record confirming the allegations against Ngcuka, said he would be co-operating fully with Hefer.

"I welcome the initiative taken by government. I believe that the issues I raised, as far back as June, about the manner in which the Scorpions have behaved in conducting their investigations and the questions about Ngcuka's past have to be investigated together," Maharaj said.

But in terms of Maduna's statement, the commission will not be investigating the activities or workings of the Scorpions.

"I want to reiterate that, as the President informed the National Assembly [on Thursday], Cabinet has full confidence in the National Director of Public Prosecutions," Maduna said.

Ngcuka's spokesman, Sipho Ngwema, said his boss was "delighted" by the news of Hefer's appointment as it gave him the opportunity to clear his name.

"It is a good thing and we are also happy about the terms of references," Ngwema said.

He said Maduna had met Ngcuka on Friday morning before making the announcement.

Maduna said the probe would help determine whether Ngcuka had "improperly and in violation of the law" taken advantage of his office, and whether he "prejudiced or undermined the right" of any person due to his alleged "past obligations to the apartheid reg

With acknowledgements to S'Thembiso Msomi and the Sunday Times.