/ 29 October 2007

Zille requests Cape Town ‘spy’ tapes

Cape Town mayor Helen Zille has asked the police to let her listen to tapes related to the city’s ”spy” affair.

Her request, in a letter to provincial Commissioner Mzwandile Petros on Monday, comes after police played some of the tapes to journalists.

She said in a statement that Petros had also ”presented” the tapes to Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool and Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille.

The tapes were made by private investigator Phillip du Toit, an employee of George Fivaz and Associates, which was commissioned to probe the activities of councillor Bhadi Chaaban.

In the letter Zille, who is also leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA), told Petros: ”Refusal to make the same access available to me will strengthen the perception that the police are releasing selective information to certain political leaders to use for their own ends.”

De Lille said in a statement earlier in the day that she had met Petros, and she gave details of some of the tapes, apparently the same ones Petros played to journalists last week.

”I can now confirm that there are over 300 tapes,” she said.

”As political leaders, wherever there is a need to investigate, we must use legitimate government agencies, like seeking permission from a magistrate or a judge.

”Doing it any other way is illegal,” she said.

Zille has promised an inquiry by a former judge or senior advocate into the ”spy” affair after suggestions the city footed a R98 000 bill for an investigation launched by the DA ahead of the recent floor-crossing window.

Du Toit, who is currently in custody on armed robbery charges, was asked to probe allegations that Chaaban offered bribes to fellow councillors to cross the floor.

The tapes — apparently including a number pre-dating the Chaaban investigation — were seized from Du Toit’s home by police, who are now investigating illegal interception of phone calls.


Last week Zille said that the city-commissioned probe into the activities Chaaban was completely legitimate.

She was reacting to an Independent Newspapers report that the DA-led council was ”at the centre of a potential spy scandal”.

The report suggested irregularities in the city’s payment to private investigators George Fivaz and Associates for a probe into suspected bribery by Chaaban.

Zille said the ”convoluted” report appeared to claim that ratepayers had paid for a DA investigation into Chaaban.

”Of course any allegation of this kind is devoid of truth. The investigation into councillor Chaaban was legitimately carried out by the City of Cape Town,” she said.

She said the investigation was ordered by council speaker Dirk Smit following complaints from various councillors that Chaaban had threatened them.

Smit had had a legal obligation to probe these allegations, she said.

African National Congress Western Cape provincial secretary Mcebisi Skwatsha said in a statement last Wednesday afternoon that Zille should resign.

He claimed Zille ”has misused council funds to pay for an illegal investigation that was initiated by the DA for narrow party political interests”.

”It is unacceptable that a council engages in espionage against its own councillors.

”It is an abuse of power and a knife held at the very throat of democracy.” — Sapa