He ruined justice
I’ve long thought the former head of the Directorate of Special Operations, Leonard McCarthy, was less than honest. The release of transcripts of the so-called “spy tapes” – intercepted conversations belonging to South Africa’s intelligence services – means I now know so.
I make a cameo appearance in the tapes, courtesy of McCarthy’s account of conversations with me The account is false, designed to bolster the former Scorpions boss’s sense of self-importance, along with the high he got from rubbing shoulders with politicians.
I doubt former president Thabo Mbeki told him to speak to me when I edited the Mail & Guardian, to get our team to “quiet down”. We were tracking the investigation of corruption charges against the man who was then the ANC’s deputy president, Jacob Zuma, and McCarthy didn’t have that influence. The former president also did not really like the M&G at the time, although he gave us a great interview.
In fact, McCarthy failed to stop the M&G’s crack team of Stefaans Brümmer and Sam Sole twice before.
He first attempted to raid our offices to gain access to documents. When that failed, he took us to court to interdict reports about the corrupting of former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi. That exposé also featured Brett Kebble, who was, of course, the first person to blow the whistle on politically corrupt prosecutions. McCarthy failed both times because the M&G’s lawyers made excellent public interest arguments. Justice works that way. And while he makes us sound buddy-buddy, I was no friend of his.
My one meeting with him was to get information about the date of Zuma’s prosecution. It yielded little. But the partisan rubbish he spouted at our one meeting is at the heart of the spy tapes. He was impaled by the seductions of power. He ruined our criminal justice system. I find it breathtaking that he is vice-president of integrity at the World Bank in Washington, DC.
That meeting was part of a series of meetings we held with allsidesinthehighdrama: MbekiandZuma, alltheirrespective advisers, and all sides at war in the NPA. We did what journalists do – we reported everything. The archives prove this.
I wish McCarthy and former national director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka had exercised fairness and due diligence, as well as the constitutional entreaty to act without fear, favour or prejudice.
They’ve ruined the independence of our cornerstone institutions and ensured justice will not be done in this case.