Former intelligence minister illegally spied on Sygnia founder Magda Wierzycka – report

Former intelligence minister David Mahlobo is facing a police investigation over illegal spying activities on critics of former president Jacob Zuma.

The City Press reported that the Hawks are closing in on Mahlobo and have already interviewed key witnesses in the matter.

A state security operative said people targeted in the spying activities included former Sygnia CEO Magda Wierzycka, journalism professor Anton Harber, and finance minister Tito Mboweni.

According to the operative, he was part of a team manning a small communications centre monitoring strategic individuals.

The City Press said his tasks included listening to conversations, summarising transcripts, and reporting real-time locations of people under surveillance.

He also had to write reports based on the recordings and alert people about impending meetings based on cellphone triangulations.

The information would be given to a runner who would take it to the minister.

Commenting on the unauthorised spying, Wierzycka said she was aware she was followed as they were “so obvious”.

She added that her phone was tapped, which was evident from her line always crackling, and she was harassed at airports by State Security ladies who “did not even pretend to be customs”.

Wierzycka said she is happy to testify about the issue. “Let’s see where this goes, but it could get interesting,” she said.

Magda Wierzycka
Sygnia founder Magda Wierzycka

Wierzycka has been a fierce anti-corruption activist and was closely linked to the Gupta Leaks in 2017.

She provided the Gupta leaks to the Sunday Times which in turn reported on the corrupt relationship between the Gupta family and government officials.

Wierzycka was also a key figure in exposing KPMG’s involvement in money laundering and tax dodging related to Gupta-linked entities.

She provided evidence which showed KPMG employees facilitated the Gupta family’s plans to siphon billions out of state organisations.

It was revealed that KPMG had been aiding state capture and corruption and acted as a political tool for President Jacob Zuma’s corrupt clique.

She also took aim at SAP’s involvement in state capture which exposed corrupt practices in South Africa.

She shared information about a SAP director who told her paying bribes was standard practice in the business when it operated in emerging markets.

As a high-profile and outspoken person against corruption in South Africa she became a target of those involved in state capture.

It is therefore not surprising that she was one of the individuals whose conversations were intercepted and who was spied on.

David Mahlobo
David Mahlobo

The allegations about illegal spying on Zuma critics come only weeks after Mahlobo was implicated in collecting millions for Zuma from the spy agency.

A secret witness told the Zondo Commission Mahlobo received millions of rand in cash from the State Security Agency which had to be delivered to Zuma.

The witness said Mahlobo was directly involved in handling cash withdrawn for the chief directorate for special operations.

Information shared at the commission suggested he received monthly cash payments of R2.5 million.

Mahlobo has, however, denied that large cash payments from the intelligence agency were delivered to him.

He is also linked to bribing judges to sway their rulings in favour of Zuma.

Mahlobo has denied these allegations, saying “I have never given an instruction that a judge must be bought, and in terms of my knowledge there is not even a single judge that has been bought”.

Mahlobo currently serves as the deputy human settlements minister in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet.

Magda Wierzycka comments

Now read: Magda Wierzycka to step down as Sygnia CEO

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Former intelligence minister illegally spied on Sygnia founder Magda Wierzycka – report