THE new spy in charge of the intelligence agency’s powerful special operations unit is the subject of a R45 million corruption investigation by KwaZulu-Natal’s treasury.
Thulani Dhlomo’s appointment earlier this year to head up covert operations at the State Security Agency (SSA) has caused a stir in the intelligence community.
Dhlomo, the former head of security in the KwaZulu-Natal Social Development Department, has no previous intelligence experience and his position wasn’t advertised.
His appointment is seen as part of a rearrangement of the security agencies ahead of the ANC’s national conference in Mangaung in December.
The SSA has been leaderless for months after the resignation of its top three officials – Jeff Maqetuka (director-general), Gibson Njenje (head of domestic intelligence) and Moe Shaik (head of foreign intelligence).
State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, a staunch ally of President Jacob Zuma, is seen as being firmly in charge of the SSA while it is headed by acting director-general Dennis Dlomo.
In the few months that Dhlomo has been in charge of special operations, he has managed to upset his colleagues by allegedly telling them he “only reports to Zuma” and by claiming large sums of money from the SSA’s finance department.
Dhlomo resigned from Social Development after an internal audit appointed by then MEC Meshack Radebe found he had interfered in tender procedures and awarded dodgy contracts to the tune of R45 million.
It recommended he face criminal charges, but two years later the matter has still not been referred to the Special Investigating Unit as requested by the audit team.
The initial audit was appointed after a service provider fingered Dhlomo for allegedly taking a R1 million bribe in return for a security tender and demanding a further R1 million. The security company owner, whose name is known to The Witness, allegedly refused and his contracts were terminated.
SSA spokesperson Brian Dube said he couldn’t confirm the identity of staff, but “in employing any member we follow the rules and regulations as set out in our legislative environment. If anyone has legitimate concerns, the Office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence is mandated to investigate.”
As an ANC intelligence operative, Dhlomo worked under Zuma, who ran the party’s spy networks during the struggle days. The audit report found that Dhlomo, a former commander in the ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal internal security apparatus, had contracted and paid three companies to work on one site at the department’s Ongoye offices near Richards Bay, even though only one was needed.
He also allegedly bypassed tender procedures and procurement staff in the awarding of tenders.
After Radebe’s audit report went to the provincial treasury, Dhlomo resigned. Treasury then began a second investigation involving outside auditors, which is ongoing.
In a 2010 interview, Dhlomo told The Witness he was being victimised because he did not get on with Radebe and asked for time to consult “ANC heavyweights” before commenting.
Treasury spokesperson Ntokozo Maphisa confirmed that they were investigating Dhlomo and that Social Development had been kept abreast of the probe.
Social Development spokesperson Vukani Mbhele confirmed that the investigation was carried out, but was unable to comment on its outcome.
“The investigation was done by the treasury as per the former MEC’s request. The treasury is not reporting to the department. Even the current MEC is not appraised about progress on the matter,” Mbhele said.