'Zuma's spy' fights tooth and nail to get State Security job back

24 November 2019 - 00:01
State Security Agency minister Ayanda Dlodlo
Image: Moeletsi Mabe State Security Agency minister Ayanda Dlodlo

Fired spy Thulani Dhlomo's attempt to get his job back and be paid a bonus suffered a setback this week when the State Security Agency (SSA) confirmed his dismissal in writing.

Dhlomo's lawyers this week wrote a letter of demand to the SSA, asking that he be reinstated and that his medical aid and perks - including his bonus - be restored.

Before he was fired last month, Dhlomo was earning more than R1.2m a year for staying at home.

The acting director-general of the SSA, Loyiso Jafta, wrote back to Dhlomo's lawyers on Friday to confirm his dismissal. Jafta said Dhlomo had been absent from work without authorisation, and efforts to contact him had been unsuccessful.

Dhlomo's lawyers are now preparing to change tack. They say his first leave of absence was authorised by the then minister of state security, Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, after he was recalled as ambassador to Japan in January.

Letsatsi-Duba told the Sunday Times Dhlomo had sent her several sick notes from his doctor by e-mail.

"I advised him then to follow the proper procedure by sending them directly to HR because I don't deal with HR issues," she said.

Dhlomo's lawyer, Philani Shangase, said his client sent sick notes to Ayanda Dlodlo after she was appointed to replace Letsatsi-Duba as minister.

He said deputy minister Zizi Kodwa and his personal assistant received and acknowledged sick notes from Dhlomo.

Shangase said Dhlomo and his legal team would prove that he had not absconded from work.

"They knew exactly where he was and this week we are going to demand a reversal of the decision or we are going to court to have it reviewed and set aside," he said.

The Sunday Times has learnt that before Dhlomo was fired, he told Jafta that Dlodlo "knows where I am".

Insiders said that when Dlodlo was asked if she knew where Dhlomo was she replied that she had no idea.

They knew exactly where he was and this week we are going to demand a reversal of the decision or we are going to court to have it reviewed and set aside
Dhlomo's lawyer, Philani Shangase

Dhlomo, who was known as "Zuma's spy", was appointed to head the SSA's special operations unit - effectively a parallel intelligence network - in 2012. Five years later Zuma sent him to Japan as ambassador.

When President Cyril Ramaphosa recalled him - shortly after the Mufamadi high-level panel delivered its damning report on the SSA - Dhlomo was meant to report for duty at the spy agency. However, he never did so.

He was criticised in the Mufamadi report for the politicisation of the SSA and the misuse of its funds.

When the report was released in March, the presidency said it painted a picture of "political malpurposing" and disregard for the constitution. Firing Dhlomo was seen as the first step to clean up the agency.

SSA spokesperson Mava Scott was unavailable for comment.