Witness links spy claim to Scorpions

Spying allegations against National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka may be motivated by his Scorpions unit’s corruption investigation against African National Congress stalwart Mac Maharaj, the Hefer commission heard on Wednesday.

Ngcuka’s former comrade-in-arms, Patrick Ntobeko ”Ntobs” Maqubela, testified that this might be the reason behind ”sudden” allegations that Ngcuka had been an apartheid spy.

Maqubela agreed with Ngcuka’s advocate, Morumo Moerane, SC, that the allegations represented ”a strange correlation of circumstances and time”.

He called Maharaj and foreign affairs adviser Mo Shaik’s allegations against Ngcuka puzzling.

”I don’t understand how anyone can make such allegations. They are incredible,” testified Maqubela, nowadays a Johannesburg attorney.

Scorpions spokesperson Sipho Ngwena afterwards confirmed that Maharaj and his wife, Zarina, still formed part of a corruption investigation by the Scorpions. The investigation also involved Schabir Shaik, Mo’s brother, and Deputy President Jacob Zuma.

During the early Eighties, ANC activist Ngcuka (currently the national director of public prosecutions and also responsible for the Scorpions) spent three years in an apartheid prison for refusing to testify against fellow activist Maqubela.

Maqubela and two others eventually received long-term sentences after being convicted of high treason.

The attorney told the commission on Wednesday he was confident that Ngcuka was not the one who ”sold them out” before the security police detained them in 1981.

This was later confirmed when he realised and was also told who had informed on their anti-apartheid operation. Maqubela declined to reveal the identity of this person, who has since passed away.

He said the reason for protecting his identity was two-fold: it would be immoral as his family was still around, and also, the ANC decided in 1993 that all issues regarding informants must be left to the past. The party’s view was that ”those things” must not be used to disrupt current processes.

The particular informant was not among those involved in the Hefer commission’s proceedings, Maqubela said. Hefer subsequently did not force him to reveal the person’s identity.

The gray-haired attorney told the commission how he and Ngcuka came to be ”brothers” after starting their articles together in 1978 at a Durban attorney firm. They first shared a house and later moved to the same block of flats. They were admitted as attorneys on the same day and subsequently joined the same firm.

Although both worked underground for the then-banned ANC, Ngcuka did not know specific details about Maqubela’s political activities.

”I had instructors in Swaziland and his were in Lesotho. He worked more on the propaganda side, and I more on the military side.”

Maqubela explained that Ngcuka could not have known about the specific undercover operation in 1981 after which they were arrested.

Ngcuka was among several of their group called to testify against Maqubela and his two fellow-accused. All of them refused and were jailed for that, Maqubela testified. — Sapa

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