Maharaj, Shaik drop RS452 spy claim

The Hefer commission apparently dispensed on Wednesday with the claim that National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka was apartheid government agent RS452.

Commission evidence leader Kessie Naidu told former judge Joos Hefer that Mac Maharaj and Mo Shaik denied this week that they believed Ngcuka had been RS452.

”That is not their contention,” their lawyer, Yunis Shaik, told commission secretary John Bacon.

This followed a reported confession by former Eastern Cape human rights lawyer Vanessa Brereton that she in fact spied under that codename.

Maharaj and Shaik are Ngcuka’s main accusers before the commission, which was set up to probe allegations that he was an apartheid spy.

Both Maharaj and Shaik publicly backed up newspaper reports in which it was maintained that the African National Congress had investigated Ngcuka for this. They also reportedly supported the claim that Ngcuka was most likely to have been RS452.

Maharaj, a former transport minister, and Shaik, a special adviser to the Department of Foreign Affairs, were both ANC intelligence operatives during the apartheid era.

Ngcuka’s former comrade-in-arms Patrick Ntobeko Maqubela linked their allegations on Wednesday to a corruption investigation by Ngcuka’s Scorpions unit.

In testimony before the commission, Maqubela called the allegations against his longtime friend and former colleague ”puzzling” and ”incredible.”

He said the motive behind them might be the reported investigation against Maharaj.

Scorpions spokesperson Sipho Ngwema confirmed afterwards that Maharaj, his wife, Zarina, and Mo and Yunis’s brother, Schabir, were still being investigated.

Maqubela told the commission of the close relationship that had developed over the past 25 years between him and Ngcuka. They met while working together as article clerks at an attorney firm in Durban.

Ngcuka served three years in prison in the early Eighties for refusing to testify against Maqubela, who was consequently convicted of treason.

They were among the same group arrested in 1981 in Durban for underground activities against the apartheid government.

Maqubela told Hefer he was confident that Ngcuka was not the one who at the time ”sold them out” to the former security police.

He refused to reveal the identity of the actual informer, saying the ANC had decided in 1993 that all such issues should be left to the past. It should not be used to disrupt current processes, they decided.

From Maqubela’s evidence it appeared as if Shaik and Maharaj were conducting their own investigation into Ngcuka’s past. A lawyer instructed by them came to see Maqubela last Thursday in Johannesburg, he told Hefer.

”She had been asked to find information about Bulelani’s possible role in our arrest [in the Eighties],” Maqubela testified.

The commission will resume its hearings on Thursday.

Secretary John Bacon said Letha Jolobe and Advocate Glenn Goosen would be called to testify.

Jolobe was among the group arrested with Ngcuka and Maqubela in 1981. Goosen is a former chairperson of the anti-apartheid Port Elizabeth Action Committee.

He was among the group of white activists on whom Brereton had spied for the apartheid government. — Sapa

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