The ball is once again in the police’s court to provide support and protection to a whistle-blower who survived a shooting in KwaZulu-Natal in October – after he has repeatedly pleaded for this.
Thabiso Zulu believes that high-ranking ANC representatives are wielding political pressure to prevent the protection from going ahead – especially after he was recently informed by the office of the inspector-general of intelligence that he deserved police intervention.
Zulu is a close friend of the slain former ANC Youth League secretary-general, Sindiso Magaqa, who died in September 2017 of multiple gunshot injuries.
Zulu revealed at Magaqa’s funeral that his assassination was linked to a huge construction tender involving powerful officials.
Zulu also testified at the Moerane commission of inquiry into political killings in KwaZulu-Natal.
Last week, he confirmed to City Press that he had received a letter, dated November 26, from Inspector-General of Intelligence Setlhomamaru Dintwe.
In it, Dintwe said he had tried to get the police’s protection and security services to protect Zulu, to no avail.
Dintwe was acting on a complaint by Zulu, who had requested that he investigate the failure to implement recommendations made in a threat report, compiled by the State Security Agency (SSA) and a risk assessment report, compiled by the police’s crime intelligence unit.
Both watchdog bodies recommended protection for Zulu and fellow anti-corruption activist Les Stuta, after concluding that their lives were in danger.
“Consequently, the threat and risk assessment reports were forwarded to the division commissioner of the SA Police Service’s (SAPS’s) protection and security services. This is the division of the police service with the mandate to implement the recommendations,” Dintwe wrote in his letter to Zulu.
“In this regard, kindly be informed that a finding is made that the intelligence service, in respect of which we exercise an oversight mandate, has diligently carried out their counter-intelligence mandate, as required by applicable legislation and prescript.
“It is on this basis that a finding has been made that the [police’s] crime intelligence have not offended or transgressed any legal prescript on their part.”
Dintwe’s statement suggests that it is the police’s protection and security services that may be blamed for not acting on recommendations contained in the threat and risk assessment reports recommending protection for the two – something also recommended by the Public Protector as the right thing to do.
However, Dintwe added in the letter that the police unit did not fall under his office’s legal mandate and that, therefore, there was not much his office could do.
He told Zulu that his office had “used all our powers to prevail upon the relevant police division to consider urgently addressing your plight”.
“It is noteworthy that our aforementioned request to the relevant police division is not supported by any legal provisions,” he wrote.
“Hence, we were entirely dependent on the goodwill of the division, hoping that the finding of the impending threat to life was sufficient to appeal to their conscience and to compel attendant moral duty.
“[My office] is therefore not legally empowered to instruct or otherwise ensure that the protection and security services implement the recommendations of crime intelligence,” Dintwe wrote.
But national police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said the SAPS could only do what it was mandated to do.
“If Thabiso is seeking witness protection, that falls under the justice department, not us,” said Naidoo.
I believe Ramaphosa asked for something to be done, but he is being strong-armed and recommendations continue to be ignored. Ramaphosa came to power on the ticket of fighting corruption. If I am not protected by him, then I have hit the ceiling and have no one else to turn to.
“I understand that he was receiving security protection from some municipality and … I do not know why he is available to talk to the media when he is yet to give us a statement on his shooting. We cannot find him.”
City Press was unable to reach Zulu to ask him to respond to the police’s allegations of being untraceable and not having given a statement about the ambush attempt.
But Zulu had initially approached the police to request protection after Magaqa’s assassination, and at the time had spoken out on their alleged failure to do so.
He had stated then that it had been more than a year since the threat and risk assessment reports were released – in April and May last year, respectively – recommending protection for him.
Zulu was shot on October 26 while waiting for state-funded protection from the police.
He expressed deep disappointment about his current predicament, especially given that “even after I spoke to President Cyril Ramaphosa on [State Security] Minister Ayanda Dlodlo’s phone just days after I was shot, he promised me protection. And here I am, still living my life on the run and in hiding.
“Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, also sent me an SMS around that time, saying there were officers at the hospital I was admitted to, to protect me. But there was none of it. I do not think that she would just lie, but something happened that stopped the arrangement that was requested by the president,” Zulu said.
“I believe Ramaphosa asked for something to be done, but he is being strong-armed and recommendations continue to be ignored. Ramaphosa came to power on the ticket of fighting corruption. If I am not protected by him, then I have hit the ceiling and have no one else to turn to.
“If the president cannot do it for me, then he must do it for my son. I cannot have a son who watches TV news and is aware of what is happening say to me that he will flee if they kill me but come back to avenge my death. My family panic whenever they hear news reports of someone killed and a name is not released at the time, as they think it is me.”
Diko did not respond to messages sent to her by City Press regarding Zulu’s statements.