Inside Government: The “Unholy Triad” of Gangs, Cops and Elections in the WC
Inside Government is a newsletter written by Premier Helen Zille.
The “Unholy Triad” of Gangs, Cops and Elections in the Western Cape
Late last week I returned from China, where I had been invited to be the opening speaker at the launch of China’s Global Food and Wine Exhibition in Shanghai, the economic hub of a country of 1,4-billion people, that maintains a growth rate of over 7%, even in an economic downturn.
We arrived at the massive pavilion at the appointed time to learn that Shanghai’s Vice Mayor, who was scheduled to share the platform and introduce proceedings, would not be coming. He had been arrested earlier that morning for what was described as “serious breaches of discipline”. That could mean just about anything.
Two nights later, in Beijing, I was woken by a phone call at 02h00 in the morning. It was my legal adviser calling from Cape Town to warn me of the possibility of my being arrested on my return to South Africa.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because the ANC has laid a charge against you under the National Strategic Intelligence Act. They claim you hired a secret agent to spy on them. You may be arrested when you arrive at the airport.”
“That is totally absurd,” I responded.
Then I thought about it for a while and added: “Let them come and arrest me. I will get bail, appear in court, have a fair trial, and prove (again), that there is a malevolent political agenda behind these charges.”
I went back to sleep immediately, knowing that I would be protected by our rights-based constitution and the rule of law.
Having experienced some connectivity interruptions abroad, I had a lot of catching up to do when I returned home. By that stage a few newspapers were routinely carrying articles about “Zille’s Spook/Spy/Spioen”, usually in the headline.
There was (in fact, still is) a desperate attempt to manufacture a scandal. The question is why?
The issue can be traced back to an edition of this newsletter dated October 15 2015, titled: “The puzzle of gangs, drugs, police and politics in the Western Cape”. In it, I joined the dots linking all the actions that have been taken by the police and the national government, to undermine effective policing in this province. There has also been a concerted effort by the national government to prevent us from conducting effective oversight of the SAPS, which is our constitutional mandate. I concluded the newsletter with a reference to affidavits, that were scheduled to come before a court of law, claiming the existence of an intricate plot between politicians, police and gangsters to destabilise the Western Cape, thereby helping the ANC to win back control of the province.
I did not pre-judge the veracity of these affidavits. I have said all along they will have to be tested in court, and that the case would be important in the process of verifying (or discarding) reports about the plot, that have been doing the rounds for some time. The case has subsequently been postponed twice. The next hearing is scheduled for 14 March 2016.
The reason these affidavits are scheduled to come before a court is that a member of SAPS, Paul Scheepers, has lodged an application for the return of allegedly illegal surveillance equipment, that he claims was unlawfully confiscated during a police raid in May. He alleges his equipment was seized because he had established this sinister politically-motivated web of conspiracy between certain senior police officers, politicians and drug lords.
Marius Fransman’s name was not specifically mentioned in my newsletter or any subsequent reports relating to it. But, immediately, and defensively, Fransman (who is the ANC’s Western Cape leader) entered the fray, because he knows that I know what role he allegedly plays in this unholy triad.
So, in order to turn the tables, he has been working overtime with his allies in the police and media to cast me as the villain of the piece. Attack being the best form of defence, they manufactured the story that I and/or the Western Cape government, had hired Paul Scheepers to spy on the ANC, an action which would have been illegal in terms of the National Strategic Intelligence Act.
This is an outright lie. It has no foundation whatsoever. In fact when I heard it, I did not even recognise Paul Scheepers’ name, nor that of his company Eagle Eye Technology Solutions. What did emerge, was that the service of Paul Scheepers’ company had been procured by the Western Cape government in 2010, following a cabinet decision to debug our cellphones and install anti-bugging software. Following the cabinet resolution, the procurement process took its course. I had absolutely nothing to do with it. I saw Scheepers once, briefly, when I handed him my cellphone and he handed it back to my secretary afterwards. I never once discussed spying or surveillance with him, and that was never his brief.
There is no law that makes it illegal to debug your cellphone, or to prevent it from being bugged. Indeed, bugging people’s phones without the order of a judge is illegal. And if anyone thinks it sounds paranoid to be concerned about phone-bugging, I remind them of the acknowledgement, by both my service provider Vodacom and the state, that my cellphone records were being scrutinised for a long time while I was Mayor of Cape Town. This was a “fishing expedition” to try to find anything I may have done wrong that could be used against me politically.
Not long afterwards a police officer working in the centre which controls cellphone interception, approached me to warn me that my phone was bugged and my calls monitored, and to dispel my scepticism, gave me details of personal conversations I had had with members of my family. The police officer said that despite an intensive attempt, they could find nothing to pin on me. Warnings from different sources intensified after the DA won the province from the ANC in 2009.
The ANC should be in the dock, answering very serious allegations about intercepting people’s calls, and of collusion with police and ganglords, to influence the 2016 election in this province. We need to find out whether they are using unlawful means to do so.
The interesting question is: How did the ANC manage to turn around the issue and put me in the dock? To be fair, most newspapers saw right through this ruse, and avoided reporting it. The only paper that has run with this line consistently, is the Cape Times. It has even adopted the ANC’s spin-name for Scheepers, calling him “Zille’s spook”. This is to be expected, as it is common cause that this newspaper has been captured by an ANC front company, and has no credibility left among discerning readers.
However, this narrative also popped up in a few other newspapers. I was amazed at the media’s short memory. Exactly the same thing had happened when I was Mayor of Cape Town, when the ANC constructed an elaborate spy conspiracy in order to justify tapping my phone, and setting up a political hit squad, in the form of the Erasmus Commission of Inquiry, driven by a political motive of bringing down the DA-led governing coalition in Cape Town.
The newspapers, especially Independent Newspapers, joined in the ANC’s feeding frenzy until two judges in the Cape High Court concluded that the Erasmus Commission was unlawful, and it was disbanded. It was one of the factors that ultimately cost Premier Ebrahim Rasool, who had established the commission, his job.
Now we are seeing exactly the same thing -- with an added dimension. The ANC today is even more desperate than they were then, because evidence is mounting that they do indeed have an unholy alliance with some senior police officers, and ANC-aligned gangsters and drug dealers, to drive the ANC’s political agenda.
This thesis was given credence by a sensational lead article in the Mail & Guardian last Friday that gave details of an alleged meeting at an official Presidential residence, between President Zuma and leading gangsters, in which the President allegedly undertook to “look into” their tax problems, in return for their help in enabling the ANC to win back Cape Town and other local authorities. The report went so far as to give details of how Duduzane Zuma, one of the President’s sons, had arranged for the gangsters to enter Zuma’s official residence without signing their names in the access book, as required.
If the story is untrue, the President must sue the Mail & Guardian. If he does not, it will be more than enough confirmation that it is based in fact.
The gangsters are reported as warning the President that there was not enough time left before the 2011 local elections to execute the ANC’s plans properly. And they were right. The DA reached 60% of the vote in Cape Town. This time they are getting their ducks in a row earlier. And essential to this strategy is discrediting the DA, even if it means inventing accusations to prevent the focus falling on the ANC’s alleged transgressions.
If the contents of those sworn affidavits in Scheepers’ papers are submitted to the court, it will be very interesting to follow the process of witnesses being cross-examined under oath.
Neither the ANC nor the police can allow this to happen, so it seems likely that, having taken everything they can from the equipment seized from Scheepers, they will return it to him, and close the case down, in the hope that the allegations against them will also die -- or at least avoid their possible verification.
But the word is already out. We will not hesitate to use our oversight powers to their full extent to expose any abuse. And this time the general public are more ready to believe some awful truths that they were, perhaps, not ready to acknowledge about our democratic government, even five years ago.
This issue has not ended. It still has a long way to run. And it will be an interesting ride.
Spokesperson for Premier Helen Zille
Tel: 021 483 4584
Cell: 071 564 5427