The DA will today submit an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) for the intelligence report(s) which State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo claimed she handed over to Law Enforcement prior to the recent looting and unrest, but which Police Minister Bheki Cele says he never received.
It is critical that South Africans know the Who, When and What of this catastrophic failure of our security cluster to protect citizens and property: Who knew upfront about the looting and unrest, when did they know it, and what did they then do about it? These questions apply to all in the security cluster, but specifically to President Cyril Ramaphosa, State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, Police Minister Bheki Cele and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Section 46 of PAIA deals with the disclosure of a record of a public body that would reveal “a substantial contravention of, or failure to comply with, the law”, as well as instances where public interest in such a disclosure would outweigh any potential harm.
The National Strategic Intelligence Act (NSIA) states that the National Intelligence Agency “must supply (where necessary) intelligence relating to any such threat to the South African Police Service for the purposes of investigating any offence or alleged offence.” (Section 2 (1) (b) iii). The Act also states that it shall be the function of SAPS “to gather, correlate, evaluate and use crime intelligence in support of the functions of the South African Police Service as contemplated in section 215 of the Constitution.”
If Minister Cele received intelligence on the planned looting and failed to act on it, he could be in contravention of the NSIA.
Minister Dlodlo should therefore publicly release the intelligence report(s) which she claims were made available to law enforcement, because such reports would likely reveal “evidence of a failure to comply with the law” by the SAPS. And this would most certainly be in the public interest.
Furthermore, it is private citizens and business owners who bore the brunt of these attacks. If the intelligence reports reveal that they suffered these extensive losses due to a failure by SAPS to comply with the law, then they should have recourse to legal action against Bheki Cele and other SAPS officials.
The statement by the Acting Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshaveni, that it is not in the country’s interest to reveal what intelligence, if any, the police had prior to the unrest is simply outrageous. Ours is a Constitutional democracy premised on the principles of openness and transparency, where citizens have the right to access the information they need to hold elected officials accountable for catastrophic failures like the ones our country recently witnessed.
The DA has long called for a complete overhaul of the oversight mechanisms over our country’s security and intelligence bodies, as we have one of the most clandestine systems in the world. In the USA, for example, the CIA reports regularly and openly in Congressional hearings. Most opposition parties elsewhere have full access to security briefings. But here we don’t see financial statements, we have very little insight into budgets and these bodies don’t report to the Auditor-General.
Everyone knows our Security Cluster is compromised, and that the primary mandate seems to be the security of the ruling party and not the state. Long before the burning and looting started in KZN this was already on full display. When schools, trains and trucks were set alight in an ongoing campaign there was little to no response from the state. But when ANC factional battles need to be waged, the full might of the state’s intelligence is made available.
If the ANC government had any intention of changing this, they would have implemented the recommendations of the Mufamadi Report into the State Security Agency by now, but neither President Ramaphosa nor Minister Dlodlo have acted on any of these recommendations.
South Africa cannot afford these cloak and dagger operations by its intelligence bodies. The looting and destruction in KZN and Gauteng have shown just how important accountability and transparency are.