Did NIA spy on Zille?


The Ministry of State Security (MoSS) says it is confounded by news that Western Cape Premier Helen Zille thinks her phones are being tapped. Zille, also the leader of the Democratic Alliance, the largest Parliamentary opposition party in South Africa, insisted yesterday that her telephone calls were monitored by the former National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in 2008 when she was mayor of Cape Town.

The South African Press Association reports Zille Tuesday told the regional legislature that she and her husband had spoken to then-intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils about the bugging of her phones at a meeting on February 14 2008. “On January 8, 2008 at 6.20 am, my husband Johann answered the phone on the desk in my study,” Zille said in a statement issued after the MoSS denial. “He heard the sound of tapes re-winding and clicking. He then heard a tape recording of conversations that I had had in the room. He made notes of the conversation that was played back on this recording.
“My husband and I made an appointment to see the then minister of national intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils on February 14, 2008.” Zille said Kasrils undertook to establish whether there had been any official directive to intercept her telephone conversations. “He reverted to us. He said there had been no official directive but he ‘could not guarantee’ that ‘rogue elements’ had not done so unilaterally and this would be almost impossible to establish.”

Zille said at roughly the same time, news had emerged and was emerging about the abuse of state institutions, including NIA, in the political battle between former president Thabo Mbeki and his political rival, Jacob Zuma.

This was followed by then premier Ebrahim Rasool establishing a commission of inquiry to investigate certain alleged unlawful activities in the City of Cape Town. “These allegations were primarily directed towards discrediting me and the Democratic Alliance,” Zille said. “During the course of this investigation, it emerged that the police had obtained a full record of every phone call I had made or received during the preceding months. I contacted my service provider and asked how it was possible that the police had this information. My service provider informed me that they had received an ‘order’ to release the information.
“I could not establish whether that order had emanated from the commission of inquiry, or from a judge [as required under the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act 70 of 2002], but I made it absolutely clear to my service provider that they had acted unconstitutionally.

The commission of inquiry was later declared “unlawful” by a High Court as it was “politically motivated”, SAPA added. “I believed that the monitoring of my calls, both on cell and landline, was part of a politically motivated strategy against me,” Zille said.

Zille said her cabinet had a meeting with representatives of the State Security Agency (SSA), the NIA-sucessor, in the Western Cape after she became premier in 2009. “I asked the SSA representatives for an assurance that neither myself nor other members of the Cabinet ‘were or are’ under any form of surveillance.” The director general of the province then wrote a letter to the director general of the national SSA, asking whether any person in the “Western Cape Provincial Cabinet is under surveillance” by the NIA. The DG, said Zille, received no reply to this letter. “I have on several occasions followed up with the Western Cape representatives of the SSA. They have verbally assured me that they have not issued instructions for any such surveillance but they have declined to give us this assurance in writing. ”

Earlier yesterday the MoSS denied that it was monitoring Zille’s telephone calls. “…Zille’s claims that the NIA was monitoring her calls are not true,” spokesman Brian Dube said in a statement.
“We are very saddened by such claims coming from her given that our Western Cape office works very closely with her office, providing intelligence products to support the work of government,” Dube said.

Dube added Zille’s claims were based on party politics not facts.

The Times newspaper separately reports that n an interview with presenter Aden Thomas on 567 Cape Talk radio yesterday, Zille said she has an affidavit signed by a police officer who admitted that she had been assigned to monitor all Zille’s phone conversations from an office in Bonteheuwel for two years. Zille said she believed monitoring her calls was part of a “politically motivated strategy against me”.