More intelligence officials lack security clearances

FILE PICTURE: South African Police in action. Picture: Ayi Leshabane

FILE PICTURE: South African Police in action. Picture: Ayi Leshabane

The recent revelations that the majority of police officers in the Crime Intelligence Unit, including its recently suspended acting head Chris Ngcobo, do not have active security clearance has serious implications for the fight against crime.

This is according to Institute for Security Studies senior researcher, Dr Johan Burger, who was responding to Ngcobo’s suspension this week for inconsistencies regarding his academic qualifications.

Recently the portfolio committee on police was informed that Ngcobo and five other provincial heads did not have security clearances.

Burger said this had “extreme implications” and referred to the case of Captain Morris “KGB” Tshabalala, who was admitted to the intelligence unit where he was responsible for assessing threats to President Jacob Zuma despite having been convicted of armed robbery.

Tshabalala’s criminal record was deleted from police systems, which helped him evade police for more than 10 years without serving a sentence.

“This is a huge indictment of the police and a typical example of what could happen is the case of Captain Tshabalala. If anybody in crime intelligence can be without a security clearance they could easily pass crucial information on to organised crime,” Burger said.

He also pointed out that even officials with security clearances were open to corruption. “This is why security checks must be done regularly. The Hawks have regular integrity tests on members and the same must be applied in intelligence,” he said.

“The police commissioner has the responsibility to reaffirm their commitment to integrity and she must make sure that there are checking systems in place, and that they are working.

“The minister of police needs to guide the commissioner, especially if he was alerted of the problem in Parliament,” Burger said.

The portfolio committee on police also expressed great concern when it heard that officials in the VIP protection and specialised protection units did not have active security clearances.

Committee chairman Annelize van Wyk said the lack of security clearance for these officials was a security risk because these officers guard VIPs and national key points.

Police management was ordered to speed up their vetting processes and ensure security clearances were issued within set time-frames.

National police spokesman Zweli Mnisi said national commissioner Riah Phiyega was currently working on this.

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