Former South African Airways board chairperson Dudu Myeni used State Security Agency (SSA) agents to intimidate SAA board members and executives by confiscating laptops and cellphones, the state capture inquiry heard.
The inquiry on Thursday wrapped up testimony from an SSA witness referred to as Mr. Y to protect his identity and his role at the SSA.
On Wednesday, the commission heard that when Thulani Dhlomo was appointed in 2012 as the head of the SSA’s Directorate of Special Operations, he changed the unit’s mandate. The unit ran parallel to former president Jacob Zuma’s protection services.
He explained that one of the consequences of this change led to several people, who could be seen as Zuma’s supporters, being granted security services protection by the SSA.
One such individual was Myeni. Myeni, who has been largely seen as a controversial figure, chaired the SAA board and had previously held several positions in state-owned enterprises. She has a close relationship with Zuma and chairs Zuma’s Jacob Zuma Foundation.
Mr Y explained there was no evidence of any paperwork being submitted which motivated or justified for Myeni’s high-level protection.
“We have found no paperwork of a request or instruction from within the agency. When we first got sight of this was from the high-level review report when we found that a group of agents were allocated to specific people, including Ms Myeni and other political figures, who could be seen as supporters of former president Jacob Zuma and would not be eligible for official protection from SAPS,” Mr. Y explained.
The commission heard about an incident of how Myeni had been assigned security detail of SSA’s agents. A Mr. Moonsamy, who heads up security at SAA, said Myeni had breached SAA’s security policy when she brought her own security. The SSA agents that protected Myeni had also refused to sign-in at SAA premises. Mr. Y said under normal processes at SSA, agents would not have had issues if they were requested to sign-in and should have done so.
Mr. Y was shown a photo of one of the SSA agents who protected Myeni and he identified the individual at Zama Ntolo.
In a meeting that took place in July 2015, it was found that Myeni had instructed her security to confiscate cell phones and laptops of board members who would be in attendance. There was also an incident with the then chief financial officer at the time, Wolfgang Meyer, who had his pen confiscated by the agents at Myeni’s request. She had suspected that the pen was a recording device.
Mr. Y said this action by the SSA agents was out of protocol as the agency has no such mandate.
“No, within the SSA we would have our security protocols in which one would lock up their cellphones in some instances, but we do not have the executive powers to confiscate the equipment of board members and executives,” he explained.
Mr Moonsamy had also explained to the commission that it was not part of SAA group policy to confiscate cell phones and laptops belonging to executives and board members.