SSA adviser calls suspension ‘purely malicious’

The minister of state security’s special adviser, Bob Mhlanga, has been suspended. This comes less than a month after Mhlanga’s co-office bearer Gibson Njenje was fired.

The turn in the pair’s employment comes after the release of a report in March this year by a high-level review panel appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to investigate alleged irregularities at the State Security Agency (SSA). In that report, the panel said the intelligence agency was being used in political factional battles, and pointed to instances of alleged financial mismanagement and criminality. It also recommended sweeping changes to the intelligence structures.

Both Njenje and Mhlanga had previously been fired from the agency during President Thabo Mbeki’s term, but both were reinstated under President Jacob Zuma.

Speaking to Eyewitness News on Monday, Mhlanga confirmed that State Security Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba suspended him on Friday, calling the move “purely malicious” and saying it was designed to disrupt interventions to stabilise the State Security Agency.

Mhlanga said that he has been accused of drawing a salary from both the International Relations Department where he was transferred to several years ago, as well as the State Security Agency. He said that there was a valid explanation for his salary arrangement — when he returned to the agency last year as a special adviser, there was an agreement between the two human resources departments — which could have been explained, had Letsatsi-Duba conducted a proper investigation.

Mhlanga said further that he was brought back to the SSA in order to stabilise it, but is “upset and disappointed” at the poor treatment he has received.

The agency’s Mahlodi Muofhe said that he was unable to comment due to not having a minister in the role as of the weekend, as the country awaits Ramaphosa’s announcement of a new Cabinet.

Last week, Letsatsi-Duba denied claims that she had lived a double life for a decade, earning millions as a spy while still an MEC in Limpopo.

Aaisha Dadi Patel
Aaisha Dadi Patel
Aaisha Dadi Patel cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in 2014, and now works in a freelance capacity. She's written about everything from politics to polar bears, with particular interests in gender and Islam. She holds an MA in Media Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand.
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