Lawyer testifies in Hefer hearing

A former comrade-in-arms of National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka on Wednesday became the Hefer commission’s first witness to testify publicly.

President Thabo Mbeki has tasked retired judge Joos Hefer to determine whether Ngcuka acted as a spy for the apartheid government.

Ngcuka reportedly spent many years in prison during the apartheid era for refusing to testify against fellow African National Congress member Maqubela, nowadays a Johannesburg-based lawyer.

Maqubela’s name surfaced in a City Press report in September which revealed that the apartheid government had in 1981 granted Ngcuka security clearance and a passport. Ngcuka was at the time in custody for his role in alleged acts of sabotage and high treason relating to the trial of Maqubela and two others.

Five months after Ngcuka’s release he allegedly used the passport to travel to Switzerland, where he joined his wife.

Ngcuka’s response to the City Press report was that he had obtained the passport as a result of an administrative error by apartheid officials.

Advocate Glen Goosen, a former chairperson of the anti-apartheid Port Elizabeth Action Committee, was also on this week’s list of witnesses to be called before Hefer, Commission secretary John Bacon confirmed on Tuesday.

Goosen attended the reported 1989 meeting of 10 white activists in a Port Elizabeth flat, which has sparked the hunt for the apartheid spy codenamed RS452.

In the past few months, RS452’s report-back on the particular meeting to her former bosses has been leaked to the media.

Although Ngcuka was earlier accused of having acted under that codename, former human rights lawyer Vanessa Brereton claimed in newspaper reports on Tuesday that she was in fact agent RS452.

Brereton now lives in London. In 1989, she purported to be an anti-apartheid activist and also attended the meeting in the Port Elizabeth flat.

Apart from Maqubela and Goosen’s expected testimony, Hefer has undertaken to give on Wednesday his reasons for forcing journalist Ranjeni Munusamy to testify before his commission.

Munusamy, the main author of the first newspaper report on spying allegations against Ngcuka, has indicated that she will appeal to the High Court against Hefer’s decision. The judge’s reasons will be essential for a ruling on her intended appeal application.

On Friday, Advocate George Bizos, SC, is expected to make a presentation before the commission on behalf of the country’s intelligence agencies.

The National Intelligence Agency and the South African Secret Service reportedly indicated earlier that they would not provide the commission with certain requested intelligence documents. They cited it could compromise their intelligence-gathering activities.

The commission had requested a broad range of intelligence files from both the police and intelligence agencies.

This had been done on behalf of Ngcuka’s main accusers, former ANC intelligence operatives Mac Maharaj and Mo Shaik.

They maintained that it was necessary to support their testimony before the commission, which was for this reason postponed last week until after November 17. — Sapa

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