Spy and police watchdogs investigate #FeesMustFall funding from secret service

The Fees Must Fall movement ebbed towards the end of 2016 (above) but has recently flared up again with protest action and disruptions at some universities. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The Fees Must Fall movement ebbed towards the end of 2016 (above) but has recently flared up again with protest action and disruptions at some universities. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The Inspector General of Intelligence (IGI) and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is investigating if money from a secret service account was used to fund elements of the #FeesMustFall movement.

Which intelligence agency is alleged to have used funds to support the movement is yet to be confirmed.

In a report by News24, Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini said that both Ipid and the IGI were probing the abuse of the account.

Dlamini said that: “Fees Must Fall is one aspect of it.”

The inspector general is an independent watchdog for intelligence operations while Ipid is responsible for investigating police misconduct.

The Inspector General and Ipid are also looking closely into whether funds in the secret service were requested under false pretences and if the money then remained in the pockets of those who requested it.

The inspector general of intelligence, Dr Setlhomamaru Dintwe, was appointed by President Jacob Zuma in March 2017. According to the website of the office of the inspector general, his role is to “look at the activities of the South African intelligence services to determine their compliance with the legislative framework” as well as to “ investigate complaints lodged by members of the public and members of the Intelligence Services on alleged maladministration or abuse of powers by the services.”

Ipid’s Moses Dlamini confirmed to the M&G that Ipid and IGI were “jointly investigating Crime Intelligence’s abuse of the secret service account” and that secret service operatives “are very effective in speedy procurement and payment [of requested money] – which takes place within seven days” and deviates from the normal procurement processes.

According to News24, sources with close knowledge of this matter say that crime intelligence agents set up a company that offered students bursaries but that this company was actually created to recruit students so they could infiltrate and sway the activities of the fees movement.

The sources disclosed that this apparent company may have actually just been a front for intelligence operatives to gain access to money.

Blade Nzimande, the SACP general secretary and former minister of higher education, told News24 that some of his “comrades” fuelled #FeesMustFall protests as part of a factionalist agenda.

Nzimande further said that “when Fees Must Fall started in 2015, I discovered in the middle of that, that actually I have far less support in government than I thought,” and that this contributed to him getting the axe in the latest Cabinet reshuffle.

The Fees Must Fall movement ebbed towards the end of 2016 but has recently flared up again with protest action and disruptions at some universities. The latest protest action is in response to the delayed release of the Fees Commission Report and the proposed fee increases for 2018.

Last year, former state security minister David Mahlobo said that former University of Witwatersrand #FeesMustFall leader Mcebo Dlamini had visited his house “several times”. Mahlobo later denied the visits took place. 

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