Mahlobo laughs off in­tel­li­gence ques­tions

CityPress - - News - SETUMO STONE setumo.stone@city­press.co.za

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

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