The State Capture Commission has heard that over R1.5 billion was expended by the State Security Agency (SSA) between 2012 and 2018 ostensibly for covert operations. Unidentifed witness Ms K who was involved in investigations on the governance and systems of the SSA in that period testified that parallel systems were set up within the agency.
She says the systems were meant to carry out the covert operations through outsourcing to private companies and to perform the vetting function of the organisation. Poor financial controls, inadequate vetting, and reckless management of resources, such as firearms, also marked the failings of the Agency. Ms K was guided through her testimony by Commission’s evidence leader, Paul Pretorious.
She testified that parallel intelligence machinery was created in 2015 within the State Security Agency with its counterintelligence mandate outsourced to private companies. Ms K has told the State Capture Inquiry that then-head of the Chief Directorate for Special Operations (CDSO) Thulani Dlomo signed contracts with several companies to do work, which SSA members were adequately capacitated to perform.
She says some of the contracts signed were not legal or valid and over R100 million was paid to these companies.
“The legitimate SSA structures almost became obsolete but even if they were working they would not have the benefit of having any information meanwhile money is redirected and rerouted to these entities and it would mean that they would actually be paralysed SSA in its true nature would be brought to a state of paralysis because you get maybe this criticism that oh you are focusing on open source but you find that people did not have the resources or they were not fully engaged,” Ms K alleged.
Additionally, she says, a parallel vetting system that checked selected individuals and issued them with purported SSA clearance certificates was also set up within the Agency. Ms K says it was irregular and weak and undermined the credibility of the official one.
Pretorious leading her evidence asked: “The vast majority of the individuals who were quote vetted unquote by pseudonym Wendy’s team were the Chief Directorate’s so-called co-workers thus the individuals who formed the basis of the human capacity of the overall intelligence parallel structure set up by Ambassador Dlomo were improperly and inadequately vetted outside official SSA channels these co-workers were given firearms, funds, and access to sensitive information. Is that statement correct or those statements correct?”
“Yes they are chair,” replied Ms K.
After the disbandment of the CDSO in 2016 with the appointment of new Director-General Arthur Fraser, the new incumbent concentrated the operations, budget, and expenditure of the SSA within his office. In his affidavit, Mr Y for whom Ms K was a replacement detailed the expansion of the DDG offices’ expenditure from R42 million in the 2016/2017 financial year to R303 million in 2017/2018 with 74% of this used on covert operations. Ms K says there were poor financial controls with flimsy receipts used to collect money in advance.
“Some of them just have the signature of the recipient and the rest is blank and our conclusion from that is that it is a blank cheque you can write any amount you want the recipient has already signed so there were a lot of those as well which shows that there was no accountability and it raises the question that how did the people clear these temporary advances off the system if you can see that the receipts are not even there and the disbursement of these funds is just a piece of paper where you just write people’s names,” she said.
The Inspector-General of Intelligence is expected to also testify at the Commission in relation to the dysfunctional state of the SSA in recent times.
In the video below is day three testimony of Ms K: