State Security Minister gave go-ahead to illegally intercept phone calls

Barely five months into the job, State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo is accused of abusing her powers by instructing the country’s domestic spy boss to unlawfully intercept telephone calls without the authority of a judge.

News24 revealed that Dlodlo allegedly instructed advocate Sam Muofhe, the newly appointed head of the State Security Agency (SSA)’s domestic branch, to monitor the communication of a man in early September, without an order from a judge. News24 understands that the man was alleged to be linked to the xenophobic violence that caused havoc in Gauteng in early September.

In terms of South African law, it is illegal to intercept someone’s communications without the authority of a judge.

Muofhe allegedly refused to carry out Dlodlo’s unlawful order and told her it was against the law to do so.

In response to questions from News24, Muofhe directed queries to Dlodlo’s spokesperson, Mava Scott.

‘Security breach’

In response to detailed questions about this and other alleged attempts to increase Dlodlo’s executive authority over the SSA, Dlodlo, via Scott, did not deny the allegation.

Instead, Scott said News24’s questions indicated that there had been a “security breach” and that News24 should not have “top secret information in your possession”.

Scott said News24’s questions “relate to sensitive operational matters” which cannot be discussed publicly and that Dlodlo would formally ask the SSA and the Inspector General of Intelligence to “investigate the apparent security breach”.

“We are also greatly concerned about a possible security breach in this regard, since the top secret information in your possession should not have been disclosed to an unauthorised party,” Scott said.

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Dlodlo served in former president Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet, first as Minister of Home Affairs and then communications, and was Zuma’s parliamentary councillor when he became president in 2009.

In February 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed her Minister of Public Service and Administration and moved her to the state security portfolio after the May elections.

Ramaphosa appointed Muofhe in August, with the task of turning around the corruption-plagued institution.

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Before that, he served as chief governance officer for the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and after that as adviser to Dlodlo’s predecessor, Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba.

The SSA will cease to exist next year and will revert to its old format of two separate spy agencies – one for domestic intelligence and one for foreign intelligence. Muofhe heads up the domestic branch.

 

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