Sunday Times

SSA lifts lid on brazen goings-on among staff

Spy agency DG says internal thieves must pay back the money


● The State Security Agency (SSA) is attempting a clean-up, acting against staff who have helped themselves to millions of rands.

In the past three weeks, two employees have appeared in the specialise­d commercial crimes court in Pretoria, but a third, who is believed to have stolen R23m, has not yet been arrested.

On Thursday, Thuso Oesi, 39, appeared in court for allegedly stealing more than R1m from the spy agency. The IT system administra­tor is facing 28 counts on charges including theft and fraud, for allegedly manipulati­ng the IT system to line his pockets in 2019 and 2020.

His case was postponed to May 17 for disclosure of the docket and for him to give instructio­ns to his lawyer.

Dressed in green trousers, a green jacket and a checked shirt, Oesi kept his head down and fidgeted with his hands in the dock. He left immediatel­y after his case was postponed.

The state alleges that Oesi, who had worked for the agency for more than 10 years, created fake payment advance authorisat­ions in favour of himself for training courses that he never attended. He requested the payments be made into his personal bank account.

According to the charge sheet, Oesi — who earns just over R46,000 a month at the agency — twice fiddled the system to change his salary. One month he made it R80,268 and on the second occasion he more than trebled it to R174,141.

Two weeks before Oesi’s appearance, Kgaogelo Bopape, 52, who worked as a cashier at the SSA, appeared in the same court charged with stealing R500,000. Her case was postponed to August for a pretrial hearing.

Bopape and Oesi have been suspended. The director-general of the SSA’s domestic branch, advocate Mahlodi Sam Muofhe, said the SSA had opened about six criminal complaints against staff in the past year.

“Almost all these cases are ripe now. Some are at the climax stage. I expect most of them will be before the courts before the end of this year,” he said.

One of the cases the agency has reported to the Hawks involves an employee who allegedly stole R23m.

“He was doing fraudulent claims. I do not have the specific details at the moment. Those will be ventilated in court,” Muofhe said, adding that the employee has not yet been arrested but was fired last year.

Muofhe said the arrests were proof that the agency was determined to get rid of fraud and corruption.

“We only have a few rotten apples which we have to root out because South Africans deserve better,” he said.

The arrests come after the Zondo commission into state capture heard in January from the then acting DG of the SSA, Loyiso Jafta, that R1bn had been stolen from the agency since 2009.

Muofhe said the money that staff are accused of stealing was needed for the agency to do its work and serve the country.

“We want to see the criminal justice system doing its job,” he said.

“We want people to pay for the sins they have committed. We hope that during this sixth administra­tion those who steal from the agency will not be shielded in any way,” Muofhe said.

The cases now before the specialise­d commercial crimes court were reported by SSA employees, he said.

“Whistleblo­wers have come forward reporting different kinds of cases against their own colleagues. Where we find there is concrete evidence, I personally open up these criminal cases.

“Most of the people have been there [at SSA] for more than 10 years and they know how to manipulate the system.”

The SSA would take civil action to recover stolen money from anyone found guilty of having stolen from it. “We will be embarking on the issue of civil recovery because the agency cannot afford to lose a cent,” Muofhe said.

He said that in the past, no SSA employee had been brought to book for wrongdoing.

“There was a belief that matters of the agency should not be disclosed to the public. Even when they stole, no-one would get arrested,” he said.

 ??  ?? Mahlodi Sam Muofhe says the SSA can’t afford to lose one cent.
Mahlodi Sam Muofhe says the SSA can’t afford to lose one cent.

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