The case that could blow the lid on SA's secret spy world

12 April 2018 - 06:00 By Karyn Maughan
SSA director-general Arthur Fraser.
SSA director-general Arthur Fraser.
Image: Gallo Images

Spy boss Arthur Fraser reacted with ire and threats of legal action to author Jacques Pauw’s book “The President’s Keepers” – which alleged that he’d set up a network of agents‚ including his own relatives‚ that could have wasted up to a billion rand of taxpayers’ money.

Pauw also suggested Fraser could be guilty of treason for setting up a home computer server into which reports were fed. But‚ in a statement released by Fraser’s family late last year‚ they accused Pauw of allowing himself to be duped by an apartheid spy into believing “lies” about Fraser.

But‚ instead of doing all he could to cooperate with Inspector-General of Intelligence Setlhomamaru Dintwe – who was probing the claims against him – Fraser allegedly embarked on a campaign of intimidation and harassment that Dintwe believes was aimed at frustrating his crucial investigation.

Dintwe believes there is‚ at very least‚ a prima facie case for Fraser to answer. And he’s suggested that‚ should the allegations against Fraser be true‚ he could face charges of corruption‚ fraud and violating intelligence legislation.

In an urgent Pretoria High Court application that could blow the shadowy world of the State Security Agency wide open to public scrutiny‚ Dintwe has revealed how Fraser seemingly grew more and more desperate in his efforts to stop the Inspector-General from doing his job by investigating the claims contained in “The President’s Keeper”.

This culminated in Fraser terminating Dintwe’s security clearance‚ allegedly on the grounds that he was a “threat to security”because he possessed “classified” documents. Dintwe says this argument is “irrational and unreasonable”.

“The Director General claims that my security clearance is being revoked because I am a threat to security. The reason why it is alleged that I am a threat to security is because I am supposedly in possession of classified information. By definition‚ my role is to be in possession of classified information. It is impossible for me to exercise my responsibilities unless I have access to all types of information‚ classified or not. The Director General cannot control the manner in which I exercise my functions by determining the classified nature of the information accessible to me.”

Dintwe wants the High Court to grant him an interdict that will stop Fraser from revoking his security clearance‚ which is obviously vital to him being able to exercise his civilian oversight role over the SSA.

“The facts illustrate gross abuse of public office in order to achieve improper ends. I have shown above that‚ to his knowledge‚ the Director General is the subject of investigation. He obviously knows that if he can revoke my security clearance‚ I will have no entitlement to access the necessary information. Therefore‚ the Director General is in effect attempting to block an investigation into himself.”

He adds: “Incidentally‚ by revoking my security clearance‚ the Director-General is acutely aware that this is a ground upon which the President may revoke my appointment and terminate me from my position.”

Dintwe further wants Fraser to be ordered to cooperate with his office’s investigation‚ and to comply with a request for information within 72 hours of the court ruling in his favour. He also wants the court to order that Fraser cannot interfere with his investigation.

According to Dintwe‚ he was forced to turn to the court after Fraser’s alleged intimidation campaign intensified to extraordinary lengths‚ and he attempted to revoke his (Dintwe’s) security clearance. Dintwe says Fraser does not have the authority to revoke the security clearance of the Inspector-General of Intelligence‚ as doing so would severely compromise the independence of that office. This is even more serious‚ he argues‚ because Fraser is trying to exert this unlawful power over the Inspector-General - while being under investigation by the Inspector-General.

“The extraordinary nature of the decision taken by the Director General — to prevent me from gaining access to my office and executing my constitutional and statutory responsibilities – requires the immediate intervention by this court. The decision by the Director General has implications not only for me as an individual‚ but for the proper functioning of the Office of the Inspector General of Intelligence (OIGI) and the broader public interest.

“On what I know‚ there is at least a prima facie case for Mr Fraser to answer. If‚ by his conduct‚ he is preventing the ventilation of that case through a statutorily created body‚ it is of extreme importance for a court to step in... My ability to fulfil my mandate and ensure a functional and independent OIGI and to investigate and report on complaints (most notably against Mr Fraser himself) has been prohibited with immediate effect based on an unlawful decision taken by a Director General in an untenably conflicted position.”

In papers filed before the court‚ Dintwe has also claimed that Fraser failed to cooperate with other investigations as well and refused to provide information in response to complaints against the SSA. These complaints included questions about the alleged presence of intelligence operatives at political gatherings.

Dintwe’s lawyers have asked for his urgent application to be heard on April 17.