Why was SA’S for­mer top spy moved to the post of na­tional com­mis­sioner of cor­rec­tional ser­vices in­stead of be­ing sus­pended? It may be be­cause, in pol­i­tics and in­tel­li­gence, trade-offs must be made

Financial Mail - - FEATURE - Claudi Mailovich mailovichc@busi­

Ir­ra­tional and un­rea­son­able, il­le­gal and un­con­sti­tu­tional. Gross abuse of public of­fice in or­der to achieve im­proper ends. This was the de­scrip­tion given for the con­duct of SA’S for­mer top spy by the in­tel­li­gence watch­dog shortly be­fore he was un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously moved to head the pris­ons as na­tional com­mis­sioner of cor­rec­tional ser­vices.

It was a re­ally bad week for Arthur Fraser. The known Ja­cob Zuma ally, who has been ac­cused of run­ning par­al­lel in­tel­li­gence net­works within the State Se­cu­rity Agency (SSA), was swiftly shifted out of his po­si­tion of power af­ter he over­stepped a line which few oth­ers would dare to cross.

In un­prece­dented fash­ion the dirty linen of the in­tel­li­gence agency was hung out in court pa­pers and in a me­dia state­ment in which Setl­homa­maru Din­twe, the in­spec­tor-gen­eral of in­tel­li­gence (IGI), ac­cused Fraser of re­vok­ing his top-se­cret se­cu­rity clear­ance as a way of thwart­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in which Fraser him­self was di­rectly im­pli­cated.

Usu­ally the un­der­belly of SA’S covert oper­a­tions is known only through leaks and lim­ited and clin­i­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Even par­lia­ment’s joint stand­ing com­mit­tee on in­tel­li­gence (JSCI), to which the IGI has to ac­count, does not dis­close the finer de­tails of what it knows and com­mit­tee mem­bers are re­quired to have top-se­cret se­cu­rity clear­ance.

The ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion, which has been dropped, was set in mo­tion by Fraser’s de­ci­sion to re­voke Din­twe’s se­cu­rity clear­ance. The move to re­voke the clear­ance blocked him from gain­ing ac­cess to his of­fice and ex­e­cut­ing his con­sti­tu­tional and statu­tory obli­ga­tions.

It was only by the in­ter­ven­tion of state se­cu­rity min­is­ter Dipuo Let­satsi-duba, in con­sul­ta­tion with pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, that the de­tails weren’t in­ter­ro­gated in an open court.

The pa­pers show how Fraser acted brazenly, as if he were un­touch­able, even in a po­lit­i­cal dis­pen­sa­tion where his key ally, for­mer pres­i­dent Zuma, was not there to pro­tect him.

Din­twe’s ver­sion tells a tale of him beg­ging for in­for­ma­tion, and ask­ing for money and ac­cess merely to be able to do his job, which in­cluded an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the shad­owy struc­tures al­legedly cre­ated by Fraser. Threats against him, which in­cluded a change in his se­cu­rity de­tail, also high­lighted some of his fears.

Din­twe plays it safe and only refers to the al­le­ga­tions that have al­ready been made public, which he was in­ves­ti­gat­ing at the time that Fraser started ask­ing ques­tions about his se­cu­rity clear­ance and in­di­cated that he would be re-vet­ted.

These al­le­ga­tions in­clude a claim that Fraser al­legedly fraud­u­lently copied the sig­na­ture of the then min­is­ter of in­tel­li­gence Ron­nie Kas­rils when es­tab­lish­ing an il­le­gal in­tel­li­gence pro­gramme known as the prin­ci­pal agent net­work (Pan).

He says it is also al­leged that Fraser, through Pan, im­prop­erly awarded ten­ders and con­tracts to peo­ple as­so­ci­ated with his fam­ily and to other in­di­vid­u­als.

It is also al­leged he was party to the es­tab­lish­ment of an in­tel­li­gence-gath­er­ing unit out­side the pro­vi­sions of the statute that gov­erns in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing.

He at­taches, as part of the court doc­u­ments, ex­tracts of Jac­ques Pauw’s book The Pres­i­dent’s Keep­ers, in which Fraser is di­rectly im­pli­cated.

Fraser’s fam­ily had in­di­cated shortly af­ter the re­lease of the book — which they rub­bished — that they would brief lawyers to set the record straight. But Pauw’s at­tor­ney Willem de Klerk tells the Fi­nan­cial Mail that al­most six months af­ter the book’s pub­li­ca­tion, nei­ther he nor Pauw have re­ceived as much as a let­ter of de­mand from the Fraser fam­ily.

Din­twe’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Fraser was not prompted by the book, but by a com­plaint laid by DA chief whip John Steen­huisen, months be­fore the re­lease of the book. Din­twe says it was al­ready public knowl­edge in May 2017 that the DA had lodged the com­plaint of which Fraser was the sub­ject.

Fraser dis­putes this, and in­di­cated in his court pa­pers that he did not know about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Din­twe says it was only in Novem­ber

2017 that Fraser sent a “threat­en­ing let­ter” to him, in which he tells Din­twe that he was aware that Din­twe had clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion sub­mit­ted to his of­fice by the DA. This was, ac­cord­ing to Din­twe, il­lus­tra­tive of the ex­tent of the abuse by Fraser as the in­for­ma­tion was prima fa­cie ev­i­dence of his own mis­con­duct. The drama sur­round­ing Fraser and Din­twe has, how­ever, high­lighted the sys­temic is­sues that af­fect the of­fice of the IGI and its in­de­pen­dence.

Din­twe has not dropped his court bid in which he asks the court to de­clare that the DG of in­tel­li­gence has no author­ity to grant, re­vise or re­voke the se­cu­rity clear­ance of the IGI, and that some of the reg­u­la­tions en­vis­aged in the In­tel­li­gence Ser­vices Over­sight Act be de­clared un­con­sti­tu­tional.

He asks the court to, among other things, de­clare that, pend­ing changes to the leg­isla

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