Setlhomamaru Dintwe has confirmed that he is investigating the alleged use of state resources to spy on prominent South Africans on behalf of the Gupta family. Picture: ISTOCK
Setlhomamaru Dintwe has confirmed that he is investigating the alleged use of state resources to spy on prominent South Africans on behalf of the Gupta family. Picture: ISTOCK

The inspector-general of intelligence, Setlhomamaru Dintwe, has confirmed that he is investigating the alleged use of state resources to spy on prominent South Africans on behalf of the Gupta family.

The confirmation was made in a letter sent by Dintwe to DA chief whip John Steenhuisen, who requested the investigation in July 2017.

The confirmation after a long delay, allegedly due to non-cooperation from the State Security Agency (SSA), comes as SA grapples with the implications of state capture as revealed at  the Zondo commission of inquiry.

It also comes after a treaty was signed with the United Arab Emirates that could result in a call for  the extradition of Gupta family members, DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen said on Sunday.

According to Dintwe, the delay in the investigation was the result of noncooperation of former SSA director-general Arthur Fraser, who was moved to commissioner of correctional services in April.

Steenhuisen said on Sunday that the DA’s request for a probe followed various media reports that Sahara CEO and close Gupta associate Ashu Chawla had been found in possession of sensitive, confidential and private state-held information about prominent people.

The information included the personal and travel information of EFF leader Julius Malema; former finance minister Trevor Manuel; Absa CEO Maria Ramos; Investec CEO Stephen Koseff; Dimension Data chair Jeremy Ord; the chairs of FirstRand and RMI, Laurie Dippenaar and GT Ferreira, respectively; and Rand Merchant Bank co-founder Paul Harris.

The DA contends Chawla could  have received the information only from people in the department of home affairs and the SSA. State resources might have been used to provide the Gupta family with information on perceived opponents.

The DA on Sunday welcomed the investigation, but still insisted  that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to appoint Arthur Fraser as National Commissioner of Correctional Services was unconstitutional and irrational, said Steenhuizen.

The DA would proceed with its legal battle to have Fraser's appointment set aside and push for criminal charges against him, Steenhuizen said.

Fraser was redeployed from his position as SSA director-general in April. Later Ramaphosa announced a high-level review panel to assess the SSA's operational integrity.

That followed a tussle beween the SSA and inspector-general of intelligence. Dintwe had  gone to court after his security clearance was revoked, allegedly due to his release of classified information.

The inspector-general of intelligence had said it had sufficient information to proceed with criminal investigations against Fraser. He  had been  accused of operating a "shadow intelligence" organisation.

Both Fraser and Dintwe denied the respective allegations.

Ramaphosa cited a need to avoid a "constitutional crisis" in the reshuffle when announcing the move in May.

In June, the panel was constituted, with the presidency saying at the time it would "assess the mandate, capacity and the organisational integrity of the SSA".

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za