State races to charge former spy boss Fraser by end October

Independent Directorate (ID) investigators have allegedly run a covert operation in their criminal investigations against former spy boss Arthur Fraser whom they want to charge before the end of next month.

Sunday World has learnt that the investigation into Fraser, the former State Security Agency (SSA) director-general, is gaining momentum and former spooks who were fired during his tenure, are allegedly offered their jobs back in exchange for implicating him.

Three former SSA employees, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, confirmed this week that they were approached and asked to append their signatures on already prepared affidavits implicating Fraser on a raft of charges. This, it is alleged, in exchange to getting their jobs back.

It is claimed that the affidavits implicate Fraser in some corruption activities, especially at the time when he was heading the Principal Agent Network (PAN), which investigated clandestine and parallel intelligence structures.

“I wasn’t even allowed to have a legal representative, but I was just told to sign the affidavits, and I will get my job back,” a former spy said.

The former spook alleged that the offer came with possible promotion prospects and back-dated salaries. This publication has seen the message.

Another former secret agent said he was told “not to worry because this clandestine operation is authorised from the top”.

A senior government official, (whose name was given to this newspaper) was expected to visit him and provide him assurances about the offer, said the former SSA agent.

“But the said official hasn’t yet visited me, as I am told he isn’t well,” the ex-spook said.

Another former spook alleged that he secretly took photos of the men who approached him with the offer and an affidavit to sign.

“The photos are my insurance in case they claim I am lying about it,” said the former spook.

ID spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka said this week that it was not the ID policy to comment on its investigations.

“The ID, however, strongly rejects all allegations that it employs irregular or improper methods in the course of its investigations.

“The unit and its investigation team are seasoned individuals who operate within the confines of the law,” she said.

She refused to disclose the names of the investigators probing Fraser, saying the ID, for safety reasons, would not provide details of its staff members. “The ID will only comment on matters already brought to court.”

Sunday World understands the ID, housed at the National Prosecuting Authority, began to vigorously pursue Fraser after he lodged the Phala Phala criminal case.

He implicated President Cyril Ramaphosa and his security head, Major General Wally Rhoode, for their alleged role in the Phala Phala farm theft.

President Cyril Ramaphosa had removed Fraser from the SSA and deployed him as correctional service commissioner. / Gallo Images

It was alleged that an undisclosed amount of US dollars, hidden in furniture and not banked, were stolen from Ramaphosa’s farm in February 2020.

Fraser, in his police affidavit, said that the five thieves were all Namibians. They allegedly broke into Ramaphosa’s farm and stole US dollars, but no police case was opened.

Fraser estimated there was between $4-million and $8-million on the farm when the robbery occurred.

Ramaphosa eventually admitted to the theft, placing the disputed figure at $580,000. He claimed the money was the proceeds of the sale of buffalo bought by Sudanese businessman Hazim Mustafa.

President Ramaphosa claimed the dollars was accrued from a sale of game by a Sudanese businessman Hazim Mustafa.

But the foreign currency was not declared, and three years later, Mustafa is still to collect the animals.

Fraser told the police that Ramaphosa used clandestine operations and abused state resources to track down the thieves.

When the culprits were later traced, they were allegedly tortured to give up the loot. Also, the men were allegedly later paid R150 000 each for their silence.

Fraser’s relationship with Ramaphosa apparently broke down when the president removed him from the SSA and deployed him as correctional service commissioner, a move seen as a demotion.

In the book The President’s Keeper, investigative journalist Jacques Pauw accused Fraser of using the PAN programme to loot the SSA slush funds.

He alleged that Fraser recruited his family members, including his mother, to be part of the project and paid them thousands of rands.

Fraser is suing Pauw for R30-million for defamation. The trial on this matter is expected to start later this year.

Ramaphosa’s sympathisers believe Fraser opened the case against the president to settle the score.

“The current clandestine investigation against Fraser is nothing but a political witch-hunt and another abuse of state power,” said one of the former SSA employees.

One of Ramaphosa’s lobbyists said Fraser was a loose cannon who deserved what was coming to him.

“He laid criminal charges against the president to save his skin. This isn’t a politically motivated operation but a criminal investigation,” he said.

Sunday World understands the investigation against Fraser started when Bob Mhlanga, a former SSA senior official, opened an inquiry against Fraser at the ID shortly after he was suspended from duty in 2019. Mhlanga’s suspension came less than a month after another senior SSA official, Gibson Njenje, a bosom friend of his, was fired.

This was not the first time Mhlanga and Njenje were found wanting at the agency.

They were previously fired from the agency during former president Thabo Mbeki’s tenure and reinstated during former president Jacob Zuma’s administration.

We understand that Mhlanga, Njenje, and two other former SSA officials, who also testified at the Zondo commission, have also signed affidavits in relation to the latest investigation against Fraser.

Njenje declined to comment, and Mhlanga could not be reached.

Fraser could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Eric Mabuza, said yesterday that he did not want to comment about the matter.

Fraser has taken the Report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture for review, and Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who chaired the commission, is expected to file his response to Fraser’s court papers by the end of next month.

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