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State capture inquiry: Zondo dismisses state security minister's bid to block spy boss from testifying

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State capture inquiry: Zondo dismisses state security minister's bid to block spy boss from testifying

26th January 2021

By: News24Wire

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An attempt by State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo to have the evidence of acting spy boss Loyiso Jafta at the state capture inquiry postponed, claiming to be concerned about national security, has been dismissed.

Jafta, the acting director-general of the State Security Agency (SSA), was set to take the stand on Tuesday to give evidence before the commission of inquiry into state capture being chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

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Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza, SC, representing Dlodlo, told the commission they had been requested to draft a substantive application to have the matter adjourned as the minister wanted to address issues of national security contained in Jafta's affidavit.

Ntsebeza argued the minister did not want to block the unearthing of criminality, if anything, she wanted to assist the commission to expose wrongdoing, but she had concerns about state security after receiving Jafta's application on Monday evening around 20:00.

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However, Ntsebeza conceded that he was not appraised of the concerns flagged by Dlodlo.

"We have papers for a substantive application making a prayer one, the adjournment of proceedings pending the filing of those papers which will address whatever it is in the affidavit of Mr Loyiso Jafta."

Ntsebeza later read a WhatsApp message purportedly from the minister, who took issue with Jafta's interpretation of Section 12 of the Intelligence Services Act relating to the state security minister's powers to hire operatives in the agency.

Dlodlo also disputed that there had been consultation between her and Jafta about what he will be testifying about before the commission.

Zondo hit back, saying Dlodlo had had enough time to flag concerns of national security regarding the contents of Jafta's affidavit and should have relayed that to her legal team before they appeared on Tuesday morning.

He added that he had read the affidavit and had not picked up anything that could affect national security but conceded that he is not the minister of state security and that she might know better.

Zondo said it appeared that Dlodlo had issues with Jafta's legal interpretation and that she will be given an opportunity to file an affidavit to the commission.

He also inferred that the argument changed from national security issues to problems around consultation, which was an issue between the minister and Jafta.

Through his legal representative, Jafta said he did not believe that giving evidence would endanger or compromise national security.

He added that he was keen to discharge his responsibility to the commission by giving evidence on Tuesday.

Jafta, as the director-general of the SSA, also had the responsibility and statutory powers to declassify and release information, which was pointed out by evidence leader advocate Paul Pretorius.

Pretorius added that information that could pose such a security threat had been redacted and that, in his view, the application had little prospect of success. He said as a result, there was no merit for a postponement to be granted.

Zondo dismissed the application for a postponement, citing that there needed to be a factual basis for the request. He expressed that no evidence of issues of national security was ventilated successfully to the commission.

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