State capture: Minister Ayanda Dlodlo's attempt to stop SSA evidence falls flat
The minister of state security Ayanda Dlodlo’s attempt to halt the evidence of the State Security Agency’s (SSA) acting director-general (DG) Loyiso Jafta was dismissed by the state capture inquiry’s chairperson Raymond Zondo on Tuesday.
This after two hours of counsel representing Dlodlo, advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, having tried in vain to convince the inquiry to postpone Jafta’s testimony.
Ntsebeza first argued that Dlodlo was concerned that Jafta’s testimony may compromise national security.
However, he failed to demonstrate how and which part of Jafta’s evidence posed this threat.
He then moved to advance a line that Jafta had not consulted with Dlodlo, who is the “executive authority” of state security matters in the country.
Asked which law required this, he attempted to quote a section of the Intelligence Services Act which said nothing about consultation between the minister and the DG of the SSA.
Ntsebeza said he had not had enough consultation time with Dlodlo because the minister had only received Jafta’s affidavit on Monday night.
“There is a [lockdown] curfew in operation so by 9pm we are rushing. I left my chambers 8.20pm. She [Dlodlo] did send me WhatsApp messages but WhatsApp messages can never substitute a proper consultation so we can answer the questions the chairperson has asked,” Ntsebeza submitted.
Deputy chief justice Zondo dismissed the application for the proceedings to be adjourned.
“As things presently stand, you [Ntsebeza] said the minister had concern that Mr Jafta’s evidence will or may compromise national security. Nothing appears to support that in your argument.
“I have read the affidavit. I did not see anything that threatens national security. The argument then moved to terms of the act that consultation between the minister and the DG is supposed to take place, but there is no such reference in the act.
“I am very alive to the sensitivity of matters relating to national intelligence. As things stand, I am going to dismiss the application.”
Zondo said Dlodlo’s application would also be an unnecessary waste of time for the inquiry, “which cannot afford to waste time having done so last week owing to a Covid-19 scare”.
He said: “The commission is under serious time constraints. All oral evidence must be finalised no later than March. Last week we lost the whole week so every hour counts.”
Jafta’s counsel, advocate Marumo Moerane, assured the inquiry his client’s evidence would not compromise national security.
“Mr Jafta does not believe his giving evidence may endanger national security. He is keen to discharge his responsibility by giving evidence today,” Moerane said.
Jafta has taken the inquiry hot seat to present his testimony.