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Mahlobo denies he was central in the looting of millions of rand in SSA

Siviwe Feketha Political reporter
Former Minister of State Security David Mahlobo
Former Minister of State Security David Mahlobo
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Former State Security Agency (SSA) David Mahlobo has denied serious allegations made against him that he had been central and participated in the looting of millions of rand from the intelligence which was whisked off in bags and suitcases.

Mahlobo returned to the stand on Wednesday night to answer allegations on deliveries of cash to him by spies as well as his direct involvement in rogue covert intelligence operations.

The SSA has been deeply implicated in state capture allegations, as evidence led before the commission reveals allegations that millions of rand had been stolen in cash and given to politicians, including former president Jacob Zuma while the agency was also used to target political opponents.

Mahlobo has been accused of having facilitated, among other questionable transactions, the alleged cash payments to Zuma, which started as R2.5 million per month in 2015 and increased to R4.5 million monthly payments in 2016.

On Wednesday night, a seemingly defiant and confident Mahlobo routinely repeated “the answer is no” when he was asked about the truthfulness of the allegations.

Mahlobo was also grilled by evidence leader advocate Paul Pretorius SC over his alleged involvement in SSA’s Project Lock, in which apartheid cop and assassin Eugene de Kock was given millions of rand and a house when he was released from prison.

Mahlobo had been alleged before the commission to have had close personal involvement in the operation, including personal access to De Cock who received protection and a R200,000 monthly salary from SSA.

Mahlobo, however, told the commission that he had no permission to disclose the names of people involved in operations, without openly declaring to the inquiry that De Kock had in fact been recruited as an SSA operative.

“I am not oblivious to the law. I might be a scientist but I got trained on this thing.  I worked on it for more than three years,” he said.

Commission chair, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, pointed out that the evidence led at the commission had been declassified by the SSA and that the relevant intelligence legislation had been taken into consideration.

Pretorius pushed an evasive Mahlobo to give direct answers to his questions, including whether or not he had a direct hand in the operation, which he conceded that his office had been involved “to intervene” in the dispute between the project manager and the asset (De Kock).

“The ministry’s office only came in when there was a problem but it never ran these operations, that is the answer that I will give… to do monitoring and to do support by the office of the executive is not illegal. That is my responsibility, but to say we ran the operation is not true,” Mahlobo said.

He pointed out that he would not agree to “discuss the methodology of how we did it here”.

Mahlobo accused Pretorius of “treating me like a child” and vowed to also give him an attitude as he continued to push him to give specific answers.

He also accused the commission’s investigators of speculating when there was no evidence of his personal involvement with De Kock and said he “would not be dragged into that”.

“I have given the answer. We never ran this operation. Only at the time there were challenges that the ministry’s office came as part of oversight,” he insisted.

Following a protracted dispute over legislation regulating the disclosure of identities of SSA operatives and personnel, Mahlobo denied any personal involvement in the operations that the intelligence agency embarked on under his tenure.

Mohlobo said the SSA had intervened when there were allegations that Zuma had been poisoned by his wife Mantuli but denied any involvement in her removal from the Nkandla homestead.

He also admitted that operatives had been deployed into the FeesMustFall campaign but told the commission that it had no proof of his direct involvement.

 

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