Kamma diplomat ’embarrassment’ for SA intelligence networks

Henry

It is only now coming to light how a rogue diplomat allegedly fooled the South African intelligence network by posing as a United Nations (UN) ambassador – without anyone suspecting any foul play.

The information that is now being made public, however, makes one thing clear, says the DA: South Africa’s intelligence and security services have been severely embarrassed.

The party says the revelations also show that South African intelligence networks and the South African Police Service (SAPD) failed to verify any information that Nhlanhla Sizani (24) presented as facts.

Sizani’s misrepresentation reportedly gave him access to briefings from the inner circle of the country’s top security group.

Sizani, who has now been charged with fraud, is said to have received personal briefings on the country’s state of readiness for the 2021 local government elections. These sessions were apparently conducted by the national joint operational and intelligence structure (NatJoints); it is the most senior security cluster in the country.

Dianne Kohler Barnard, a DA member of the joint standing committee on intelligence, argues that what was passed on to Sizani was subject to such a security clearance that even those with top clearance would not have received the same information.

Moreover, it is claimed that Sizani also “observed” this election as a member of the UN.

“This could probably be the most damning indictment against the competence of our intelligence community,” says Barnard.

Sizani is said to have also participated in several events, including a prize distribution by the police. He apparently also attended the funeral of a police officer who was killed in the performance of his duties.

Sizani was arrested after it came to light that he used a fraudulent letter with the UN’s name to pose as an ambassador of this agency.

Barnard says, however, that Sizani still rubbed shoulders with ministers, police chiefs, spy bosses and even the president before his arrest; “everything is believed on the back of a forged UN letterhead, without so much as an inspection by any of our security services”.

“With this blunder, the South African government has truly become a laughing stock for the international intelligence community. The question now arises what consequences will arise from this scandal, or will the ANC sweep it under the carpet again while cadres continue to occupy top positions – free from any form of consequences.”

Despite budgets of billions of rand, Barnard believes that the country’s intelligence and security services still cannot keep the country’s citizens safe.

“None of our top crime intelligence‑ or top security services noticed this alleged fraud,” she says.

The DA has undertaken to write to the chairman of the joint standing committee on intelligence to request that those responsible for this “catastrophic failure of our top security group” explain before the committee why they should not be given the go-ahead.