DA off to court to contest spy boss’s appointment to correctional services
The DA is due to lodge papers in the Pretoria High Court on Friday to contest the appointment of Arthur Fraser as the national commissioner of the Department of Justice and Correctional Services, on the grounds that it is irrational.
This will be the first time any of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s appointments is challenged in court. His predecessor, Jacob Zuma, was taken to court over his choice of the National Director of Public Prosecutions in Menzi Simelane and, more recently, Shaun Abrahams.
Fraser, previously director-general of the State Security Agency (SSA), is alleged to have been implicated in corruption and theft while head of the agency and when he was second-in-command at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
The DA’s James Selfe made the announcement during his speech on the debate on correctional services in Parliament on Thursday. Instead of being transferred to a new senior position in government, Fraser should be prosecuted, Selfe said.
"As long ago as October 2014 we have been aware of the controversy and serious allegations that have surrounded Fraser. An exposé was published in City Press at that time under the banner ‘Spies plunder R1bn slush fund’," Selfe said.
"The story chronicled a litany of fraud and corruption — involving Arthur Fraser — and the wanton squandering of hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money. Mr Fraser, then second-in-command at the NIA, which later became SSA, had set up an expanded project of SA’s intelligence capabilities, known as the Principal Agent Network (PAN), with a limitless budget."
Millions of rands were allegedly transported in suitcases from a state money depot to "the farm", the nickname of the SSA headquarters near the Rietvlei Dam.
Selfe claimed that Fraser was one of the people instrumental in keeping Zuma in power, and that he enabled the former president and his family to plunder the coffers of SA at will. The DA also alleges that Fraser was implicated in a two-year forensic investigation for misappropriating hundreds of millions of rand while he was as the SSA.
"The PAN — Arthur Fraser’s brainchild — was investigated by the auditors of SSA for a two-year period, who produced a report in excess of 300 pages. They reported back, inter alia, that PAN was riddled with wastage, corruption and nepotism and that this warranted a full-scale investigation.
"The PAN project was, simply put, a parallel and detached intelligence network that operated independently of the SSA or NIA, and had a free pass to do whatever [it] wanted on the strength of a forged document containing a copied and pasted signature of then Minister Ronnie Kasrils.
"It was a story of theft and corruption, of personal enrichment from a slush fund not subject to any controls. The final figure is in the region of R1bn plundered from the taxpayer — and Mr Fraser has still not been held to account. When an (illegal) server was removed from Mr Fraser’s private residence, investigators found 800 intelligence reports that he had failed to forward to the agency, and raised suspicions of where his loyalties lay."