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'Millions left State Security Agency offices in suitcases'

Siviwe Feketha Political reporter
Inspector-general of intelligence Dr Setlhomamaru Dintwe at the state capture inquiry on Wednesday May 12 2021.
Inspector-general of intelligence Dr Setlhomamaru Dintwe at the state capture inquiry on Wednesday May 12 2021.
Image: Veli Nhlapo/Sowetan

Senior managers within the state security agency (SSA) had allowed the large-scale looting of millions of rand in state funds as they confused legitimate secrecy of intelligence work and use of cash as immunity from accountability.

This is according to inspector-general of intelligence (IG) Dr Setlhomamaru Dintwe who testified before Zondo commission as he recounted how large sums of money were stolen to fund nefarious activities that had nothing to do with the intelligence agency.

Dintwe said some of the  rot in the SAA and crime intelligence had continued due to the IG's recommendations and reports being ignored.

Dintwe said some of the funds had been looted out of the SSA in suitcases, with some of it “being lost during intelligence operations” and amounting to millions of rand.

“Our findings are that these monies have been used for other things that in fact could affect our national security adversely. Some of those monies could be used to fuel political tensions and there is evidence in our possession that some of those monies were used to finance a particular faction within the governing party (ANC),” he said.

The commission has previously heard from spooks who took the stand on how large sums of SSA funds had been siphoned in cash to allegedly fund the upkeep of politicians, including former president Jacob Zuma and how some of the funds were used to allegedly influence journalists and the judiciary.

Dintwe said one of the operatives had made off with around R3.5m in one instance, before he came back and claimed to have lost it without explaining the circumstances.

He said the SSA member then went on early retirement last year and instructed the SSA to make deductions from his pension payout.

“Others will know that their pension will not even get to that particular amount and in this instance he just came back and said ‘I have got no reasons, I have lost it and please start deducting it’,” he said.

Dintwe said some managers with SSA deliberately abused the permission to use cash or misconstrued the secrecy around it to mean that they did not have to account for the use of funds.

Dintwe said there was also another SSA member, “a protector and a political principal”, who had been submitting fraudulent overseas travel claims since 2016, amounting to more than R9m.

This was despite the concerned principal having not travelled out the country in some of the instances claimed for.

Dintwe said he had also raised the withdrawal of large sums of cash from the SSA during the 2016/2017 financial year and distributed them across the country with little proof of receipt of the money by the people they were purportedly intended for.

He said both the joint SSA administrative and political leaders as well as the joint standing committee on intelligence (JSCI) had refused to seek accountability of the improper use of cash.

Dintwe said the IG had to be given more powers to ensure that divisions of intelligence and state organs did not ignore his reports and recommendations which were critical for corrective action.

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