Spy watcher ducks query on adviser’s clearance: Business Day


Inspector General of Intelligence Faith Radebe has declined to investigate how controversial lawyer Paul Ngobeni — allegedly a fugitive from justice in the US — managed to get security clearance to allow him to serve as a special adviser in the Ministry of Defence ad Military Veterans.

Business day reports today Ngobeni shot to prominence when, as a staff member of the University of Cape Town’s law department, he became publicly involved in the controversy surrounding Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe and his possible candidacy for a place on the Constitutional Court. Defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu has since appointed him as a part-time special adviser.

In December Democratic Alliance defence spokesman David Maynier requested the IGI to probe how Ngobeni had got a security clearance, as required, when he “was reportedly permanently prohibited from practising law, is facing a series of criminal charges and is a fugitive from justice in … the US”.

Radebe, in her response to Maynier, appeared to use a technicality in her refusal to investigate the matter, Business Day says.In correspondence republished on politicsweb, she

noted that Maynier had not lodged a complaint in terms of the Intelligence Services Oversight Act [40 of 1994] and that his “request resembles a tasking, namely to conduct an investigation into the decision of a Minister to hire a security advisor and whether the person so appointed has a valid security clearance from the concerned Services.
“We are mandated to conduct tasked investigations as ordered by the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI) in terms of section 3(g) of the Act or perform tasks designated by the President or the Minister responsible for a Service in terms of section 7(7)(c ) of the Act. As such we regret to inform you that we are not mandated and are therefore unable to investigate your request. However, we would like to inform you that we will continue to monitor and review the lawfulness of the activities of the Intelligence Services, including the monitoring of compliance with laws and applicable policies on the issuance, refusal, withdrawing and degrading of security clearances by the concerned Services which are within the purview of our statutory mandate.”

Maynier responded on politicsweb that one “would have thought that the fact that Paul Ngobeni, who is reportedly a fugitive from justice in the United States, received a high level security clearance would be treated as a very serious matter. However, the IGI appears to be more concerned with process than outcome, and seems to be scrambling to find reasons not to investigate Paul Ngobeni. This is not the end of the road: I will re-submit my request in the form of a complaint. I am not going to sit back and allow … Advocate Faith Radebe to dodge a proper investigation into Paul Ngobeni’s security clearance. Of that, you can be sure.”