/ 3 July 2008

Browse Mole report a ‘mixture of fact and fiction’

Suspended head of the National Prosecuting Authority Vusi Pikoli had a feeling that the the Special Browse Mole Report would cause trouble.

Suspended head of the National Prosecuting Authority Vusi Pikoli had a feeling that the first version of the Special Browse Mole Report would cause trouble but didn’t do anything about it immediately because he was advised to ”file” it and his department already had a heavy workload.

”It was one of those documents that you wish you have never seen. I had this gut feel about this document, that this was going to cause trouble,” he said in Johannesburg on Thursday at the Ginwala commission of inquiry into his fitness to hold office.

The report was handed to him in March or April 2006 by former Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) head Leonard McCarthy.

McCarthy told him that a Swiss judge had spoken to him about a person involved in money laundering who had made several trips in and out of South Africa. However, McCarthy had said it was still a work in progress.

At the time the DSO was busy with high profile investigations and dealing with matters relating to the Khampepe Commission into the dispute over whether the DSO, an investigative unit, should stay in the Justice and Constitutional Development Department or be moved to the South African Police Service.

”We were rather stressed out,” he said.

McCarthy said that because he was so busy, there was no harm in filing it away because he was going to give him a final report.

Although it already contained a number of conclusions ”on the face of it”, Pikoli considered it a ”mixture of fact and fiction”.

”As I said I did not really apply my mind to it,” he said. ”I did not study it, I flipped through it.”

The report contained allegations of a foreign funded operation to bring African National Congress president Jacob Zuma to power.

One of the ”high profile” investigations that the DSO was working on was a corruption case against Zuma. The other was a corruption case against police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi.

When he read the final version in June/July he became angry and thought that ”if there was a time that Mr McCarthy was going to leave the DSO, it was going to be that time”.

It had clearly been produced by someone who had contact with ”old apartheid structures of intelligence”, he said, and not a single member of the DSO had the capacity to produce it.

”I told Mr McCarthy that this document shall enjoy no status in the DSO and that there should be no further work on this report.”

He believed it was clearly an intelligence report, and not the mandate of the DSO, although it had some elements of organised crime in it.

H then met the directors general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and of the South African Secret Service and between them they decided to work together to find out who the source was.

He also discovered they had already independently received some of the information in the report.

He said intelligence director general Manala Manzini was not telling the truth when he testified that he had said ”I have a hot potato”, because he believed the document had no status with the DSO.

Pikoli said he gave the department’s full support and cooperation during this investigation, contrary to Manzini’s testimony that they received none.

He said the only dispute they had with the NIA was over an accusation by them that a DSO employee had leaked the report, but, without proof from the NIA, they could not act on it.

Pikoli was suspended on September 23 last year on the grounds of a breakdown in relations with Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Brigitte Mabandla and that he did not fully appreciate maters of national security.

He believes it is because of the Selebi investigation. – Sapa