IT expert 'hindered' in probing hoax emails

A computer expert testified in court on Monday that he was hindered when analysing whether former spy boss Billy Masetlha and his two co-accused had fabricated controversial hoax emails about an alleged African National Congress conspiracy, as he was given hard copies and not the electronic versions.

The Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court heard state witness Daniel Myburgh (37) testify that he was given 74 pages of electronic communication, which were hard copy and not electronic versions, when tasked with investigating the matter.

He had no explanation of how the 74 pages were collected, nor of the methodology and the type of software used to create the emails.

“The influence of limitations was that I could not test the electronic route of the emails,” Myburgh said.

Masetlha, IT specialist Muziwendoda Kunene and former National Intelligence Agency (NIA) manager for electronic surveillance Funokwakhe Madlala are facing charges of fraud amounting to R152 000.

The charges relate to alleged hoax emails implicating senior African National Congress members in a conspiracy against former deputy president Jacob Zuma.

The three pleaded not guilty to one count of fraud.

Myburgh said he could only form an educated guess of how the emails were created.

Magistrate Dawie Jacobs asked Myburgh if his educated guess was due to lack of evidence of how the emails were generated and he agreed.

“I had to consider how they [the emails] were created when analysing them and then formulate an idea of all the possibilities,” he said.

Myburgh, an expert with seven years’ experience, said he formulated his opinion bearing in mind that the emails could have been authentic or that they could have been fabricated by monitoring, and by typing, copying and pasting the documents.

In a plea explanation read in court by his attorney, Kunene said the emails in the state’s possession were not the same ones he handed over to the NIA.

Kunene, along with his co-accused, denied interfering, fabricating or doctoring any hoax emails.

Masetlha’s plea explanation also denied that he was handed any of the documents referred to in the charge sheet.

The case continues.—Sapa

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