Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo chairs the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture. (Felix Dlangamandla/Gallo Images)
- A team of non-SSA members were recruited and trained by Thulani Dlomo, before he became a spy boss, according to an unidentified witness.
- These members would form part of a parallel SSA structure tasked with protecting and serving the interests of former President Jacob Zuma.
- This was revealed on Wednesday at the State Capture Inquiry.
While still working for the Kwazulu-Natal Department of Social Development, Thulani Dlomo – who would later become a spy boss – trained 48 non-SSA members with the purpose of establishing a parallel intelligence and protection unit for former president Jacob Zuma.
These details were contained in an affidavit by a State Security Agency (SSA) operative, known as Mr Y and corroborated by Ms K at the state capture inquiry on Wednesday.
Ms K, who appeared before the commission via a video link at a protected location, was part of the team in Project Veza, tasked with investigating allegations of irregularities and criminality within SSA between 2012 and 2018.
Mr Y, who deposed an affidavit, but could not testify physically due to ill health, also played a role in Project Veza as a sponsor.
Ms K’s testimony was to confirm the contents of the affidavit by Mr Y.
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One of the main focus points of the testimony focused on the protection and intel unit created for Zuma.
According to Mr Y and Ms K, these operatives received training by Dlomo, and were deployed after the 2009 elections that saw Zuma elected as president.
Ms K confirmed that Dlomo, who was later appointed as an ambassador to Japan, was responsible for laying the groundwork of the unit before Zuma became president and before he was officially in the employ of the SSA.
Ms K confirmed that the recruits were trained while he was with social development and that letters were seen where Dlomo’s employers were informed that he was assisting the SSA.
These members were also trained in an unnamed country.
Mr Y and Ms K also detailed that these members were not subjected to normal recruitment and vetting processes of the SSA and that they were given access to SSA funds and resources such as firearms.
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These funds were channeled to this parallel structure that were solely tasked with serving Zuma and his interests, forming a private force for the president.
This unit, which was called the Presidential Security Support Services, also did not appear to be beholden to structures of the SSA and were asked to sign contracts that were not from the agency.
“It seems to me that whatever their duties were, they did not perform them within SSA structures?” Zondo asked Ms K.
Ms K answered that the unit’s operations were never disclosed to the SSA and thus effectively operated outside of the SSA.
These members were eventually absorbed into a unit that coincided with the appointment of Dlomo as the manager of the chief directorate of special operations (CDSO) in 2012.
Ms K further said that no memorandum of understating between the unit and the South African Police Services, who are legally tasked with the president’s protection services, had been found.
Mr Y, in his affidavit, also claimed that Dlomo reported directly to Zuma, while Ms K said it was a deduction she had made as there was not proof of the reporting line.
However, Ms K said operatives of the unit had told her that they were reporting directly to Zuma.
One operative even said they felt very powerful because he reported directly to the president at the time.
She added that, while the core members of the unit were non-SSA members, over time, a handful of SSA members were recruited into the CDSO.
Earlier on Wednesday, Ms K named former intelligence ministers, Siyabonga Cwele, David Mahlobo and advocate Bongani Bongo as the political leadership that abused the SSA and its mandate, while naming Arthur Fraser and Dlomo as those who implemented and executed the abuses.