Mahlobo laughs off intelligence questions
Could the intelligence service have done anything to stop Tshwane going up in flames? State Security Minister David Mahlobo says this is often “a funny question” asked by “funny people” to create an impression that he is terrible at his job.
On Tuesday, Mahlobo said at a government media briefing that those behind the Tshwane riots were known, prompting questions about why the culprits were still on the loose if government knew who they were.
“I cannot come and say I know when I do not know,” Mahlobo told City Press on Wednesday.
“The reality is that you always have this funny question about where was intelligence … If I have intelligence that you are up to something, in our country, we can act on you when you have actually done that thing or are caught in the act,” he said. “Imagine if [I acted on] the intelligence I have about many things happening in the country, and how many people would be questioned every day. You will cry and say I am tailing you like the apartheid government.” He said people were already accusing him of “listening to their phones and checking their movement. Everyone is complaining. Imagine if I can tell the country what I know and what people are up to. That is not how we work.”
Mahlobo said that once intelligence was received, the agency would be on the alert, but it still had to verify the information.
He said police would not have gone into Tshwane if they did not have information from the intelligence agency.
“For example, the first day when the incident happened, [we knew that] the biggest push was going to be in the early hours of the morning. And if we had not actually increased the resources on the basis of intelligence, what would people have said?” asked Mahlobo.
He said some people asked questions about the effectiveness of state intelligence services because they did not understand how it worked, but “at the very same time you could see that there are those funny people because someone is trying to push an angle that we have not done our job”.
He said the security agencies would continue to bring stability to Tshwane through law enforcement.
He said citizens could play a role in assisting law enforcement by providing the information they have on the culprits to the police.
He said the media also had a role to play, including sharing with the police images of people who had been seen looting.
“And you can see that these are quality photos. Sometimes citizens must help and give the photos to the police,” said Mahlobo.
FUNNY QUESTION David Mahlobo