Spy Role Not Key to Ngcuka Saga, says Maduna
Cape Town - It was irrelevant whether prosecutions chief Bulelani Ngcuka spied for the apartheid government unless it was found that, because of his "alleged ignoble past", he had abused his office to target certain individuals, Justice Minister Penuell Maduna said yesterday.
Maduna's comments in Parliament make it clear that government and the African National Congress are not about to embark on a witch-hunt for former informers and spies, despite the appointment by President Thabo Mbeki of a judicial inquiry into the allegation against Ngcuka.
Maduna said that if, hypothetically speaking, the allegation was found to be true by the commission of inquiry chaired by Judge Joos Hefer, this would not automatically mean that Ngcuka would have to leave his position.
The sole aim of the investigation, Maduna said in reply to a question by Democratic Alliance justice spokeswoman Sheila Camerer, was to determine whether Ngcuka was targeting particular individuals.
Ngcuka has spearheaded the Scorpions investigation into alleged corruption by Deputy President Jacob Zuma and former transport minister Mac Maharaj.
Maduna said there would never be a general inquiry into alleged apartheid spies and informers.
" In this particular instance, there is an investigation because there is a suggestion that the office is being abused.
"If that suggestion was not made, we would not be having an inquiry," he said.
"The fact that you might indeed have done or said ignoble things under apartheid is neither here nor there."
Maduna said as far as he had been able to establish, Ngcuka at the time deputy chairman of the National Coucil of Provinces did not receive a security clearance before his appointment in August 1998. Nor was this legally required.
The appointment was endorsed by then president Nelson Mandela and approved by the cabinet.
Maduna said that Maharaj, who has publicly supported claims that Ngcuka was an apartheid spy, was present at that meeting.
With acknowledgements to Linda Ensor and the Business Day.