Squeak up, comrade, or we’ll tell on you

But the anonymous, threatening letter he received in early May is both the latest instance – and the most astonishing. The unsigned, typewritten letter, purporting to be from "a private investigating company", demands Qiba's "immediate co-operation” in divulging information about the African National Congress or his "activities" will be divulged to the press.

Diba, regional executive committee member of the ANC in the western Cape in charge of conflict resolution, has blamed a state "dirty tricks" operation. This week he questioned the apparent unwilling­ ness of the police to investigate: almost a month after he was told members of the Crime Intelligence Service (CIS) would come to get a statement from him, he is still waiting.

A Weekly Mail investigation to find the origins of the letter has revealed the hallmarks of covert activity: the box number to which Diba was told to send information is registered in the name of a fictitious company, while whoever rented the box used a false identity number and an illegible signature to cover their tracks. The letter claims the PI firm represents international financial institutions interested in investing "large amounts of money "in South Africa.

It states that during the course of an investigation into "certain elements" within the ANC, "substantial information "revealed that "certain individuals of the ANC are involved with unsanctioned activities. "Your activities amongst others have been monitored by us for a long period of time and reveals several acts of misconduct on your behalf, regarding finance, your personal life and meetings with suspected state agents," the letter states. It requests his "immediate co-operation" in giving information on ANC financial policy, its views on the "security situation", the "identification of any suspected high profile official " in the ANC "who threatens the negotiation process within the Codesa context and interim government ", the ANC's position on trade unions "in the new South Africa" and whether the ANC/SACP alliance "would continue to exist out of necessity".

Diba was asked to furnish the information within five days of receiving the letter. "If you fail to respond we will have no other option but to, by means of an anonymous source, furnish the information at our disposal to the press," the letter threatened. The box at Cape Town 's post office is registered in the name of Data Net International. The physical address given exists, but is a 20-floor city-centre office-block whose administrators said they had no record of such a company in their books. A search through the records of the Registrar of Companies in Pretoria revealed that no company called Data Net International was registered, either as a close corporation or a limited company.

Further investigation showed that the box number was rented in 1989 to someone who used an illegible signature on the form and entered an identity number with too many digits. Diba reported receiving the letter to Major C Brink, head of the special unit set up in terms of the National Peace Accord to investigate complaints against the police.  "The contents of the letter alone indicate that it is part of a dirty tricks campaign conducted by agents of the state," Diba said. "The fact that the police have so far done nothing comes as no surprise. We have frequently reported to police cases that involve some form of harassment of anti-apartheid activists and they have never been resolved."

Some of these incidents have involved him personally: in January, balaclava-clad men paid a night-time visit to his home. On another occasion, four men whom neighbours said appeared to be policemen, were seen taking photographs of his house. Brink informed Diba on May 27 that a complaint of intimidation would be registered and investigated by the CIS, as the case fell without the ambit of the Peace Accord.

This week, police said Diba's "refusal" to make a statement was delaying their progress – a claim Diba denies. Police liaison officer Captain Attie Laubscher said Diba had failed to respond to messages asking him to contact the CIS to make a statement. "We are urgently awaiting his affidavit so that the matter can receive the necessary attention," he said. Regarding surveillance of Diba 's house, he said members of the CIS Were not watching Diba 's home but were "performing normal crime preven­tion duties". Diba said that at the time, police had denied any involvement.

This article originally appeared in the Weekly Mail.

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Gaye Davis
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