The State Security Agency is on a drive to attract South Africa’s youth into the intelligence community.
As part of the Youth Month celebrations, State Security Deputy Minister Ellen Molekane on Wednesday educated learners at the Morris Isaacson High School, in Soweto, about career opportunities in the intelligence field, reports government news agency SAnews.
The school in its humble façade holds a strong significance to the events of 16 June 1976. It is where the students’ protest is said to have gained momentum after starting at Naledi High School in the southwestern end of the township.
Speaking to the learners, Deputy Minister Molakane, who was also a student at the school some 40 years ago, said serving the country in the intelligence field means “one is patriotic and you believe in and respect the Constitution of the country and the security and the wellbeing of your fellow South Africans”.
“It means you work to protect your country against enemies by gathering information, which you then analyse to determine whether there is a threat or not against us or whether there is an economic opportunity which our country should take advantage of,” she told the leaners who had braved the cold morning to listen to her in-between their June examinations.
This analysis, she said, then allows the president of the country and government to take decisions that will make South Africa succeed in developing the economy.
“This information also makes us understand and get to know which countries in the world share our views and regard them as our friends. That is what intelligence is about.”
The Deputy Minister also educated leaners about the role of intelligence in a democratic South Africa.
The main and primary role of the State Security Agency, she said, is to safeguard the Constitution, uphold fundamental rights, promote security, stability, cooperation and development, in South Africa, as well as the achievement of national prosperity and contribute to global peace and promotion of the ability to face foreign threats and enhance competitiveness in a dynamic world.
“Intelligence work is not about what we usually see in the spy movies all the time. Intelligence work is a respectable and noble profession. We are the guardians of peace, democracy and the Constitution.”
She then went on to detail the career opportunities in the intelligence services.
These include the political science, international affairs or politics, economics, sociology, information technology, physics, mathematics, law, foreign languages, human resources and electrical engineering.
Deputy Minister Molakane said the department’s target was to train young operatives, especially women in economic intelligence, a field that was critical in a developing nation.
Once the learners have completed their area of study, the agency will then put them on the South African National Academy of Intelligence established in North West 10 years ago.
There as candidates, they would have had to complete a rigorous screening process. This was to ensure the service recruited the best possible candidates.
Excited learners had a flood of questions for the Deputy Minister, ranging from bursary opportunities, terrorism in the continent, the work of the intelligence in addressing the attacks on people from other African countries as well as the life of a spy.
“The world of intelligence is an exciting world. It is a world where we work quietly without seeking personal glory.
“We need all personalities and welcome everyone from all cultural backgrounds because, as a country with different cultures, languages and race groups, we can better understand the world and what is happening around us and be able to give our government reliable information and analysis so that it can best respond to the needs of all of us,” she said.
Matriculant Simamkhele Lesele, 17, told SAnews that she would consider a career in the agency.
“I am very passionate about my country and judging by what the Deputy Minister told us, it looks like there are many opportunities for learning within the field.”
Another learner Ntando Mpunzi, 18, said he never dreamed that such opportunities were available in South Africa.
“I wanted to study political science after matric. With such opportunities I guess I can be able to study my field of interest and look for job opportunities into the intelligence which would be like killing two birds with one stone for me as I have always been intrude by their work,” said Mpunzi, adding that he had always been excited by the world of spies.
“I normally watch the spy movies as they just add excitement to the secret world.”