Defence Intelligence chief Lt Gen Moreti “Mojo” Motau has taken early retirement. Beeld
newspaper reports Motau retired suddenly in late March.
The paper adds his unexpected departure could relate to speculation that he could be the country`s next police chief.
The Afrikaans daily notes that his departure further increases the number of vacancies at the top end of the military. In addition, SANDF chief Genera Godfrey Ngwenya is expected to retire soon on grounds of ill health. The Department of Defence`s top post that of Defence Secretary has also been vacant since the death of January Masilela in a car crash last year.
Motau briefly made news last year when Engineering News and the Mail & Guardian
both reported that he had ordered a R1-billion military spy satellite from Russia. The strategic reconnaissance system was – and still is – provided for in the defence budget but was cancelled by then-Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota.
Lekota`s action caused a diplomatic standoff between the two countries and has also delayed the launch of the Department of Science and Technology`s Sumbandilasat satellite. The M&G reported shuttle diplomacy had failed to resolve the dispute, which Russia was said to be taking to the international arbitration court in The Hague.
The paper added that it was unclear why Lekota cancelled the contract. NPO Mashinostroyenia, the Russian state company from which Motau ordered the spy satellite, referred all queries to Lekota’s ministry which declined to comment.
Beeld reported in October
that Motau and Defence Intelligence were running several “front companies” to hide espionage activities.
In court papers opposing the liquidation of one such company – Sonel Personnel CC – he reportedly claimed he “needed no authorisation – not even the president’s – to write a cheque of up to R100 million.”
Motau said “several” front companies financed from the Special Defence Account were still actively involved in espionage up to the highest level.
Even the Department of Defence was not aware that some of these front companies existed, Motau stated in court papers handed in at the North Gauteng (Pretoria) High Court.
Mail & Guardian newspaper
reported the month before that Motau, sacked civilian spy chief Billy Masetlha and controversial African National Congress chief whip Mnyami Booi were shareholders in the Nawa group of companies.
“Company filings show that the three men and a fourth partner, Sifiso Pretorius, registered Nawa Holdings in February this year. In May they registered Nawa Oil, Nawa Mining, Nawa Energy, Nawa ICT and Telecoms, Nawa Developments and Nawa External Operations,” the M&G said.