30 June, Johannesburg – Civil society organisations have today released the declassified Boast Report from the Zondo Commission into State Capture. The report details some of the rogue spying activities undertaken by the State Security Agency (SSA). This comes after years of campaigning and public pressure on the SSA to be transparent, including declassifying parts of the report and making it available to the public.
The Boast Report was written by a member of the special operations unit of the SSA to the then Director-General, Arthur Fraser, effectively boasting about the accomplishments of special operations in relation to surveillance of civil society actors including Greenpeace Africa, Right2Know, and FeesMustFall activists. It makes particular mention of the penetration of organisations by agents posing as activists.
Greenpeace Africa, Right2Know, and Right2Protest call on the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, the Office of The Inspector General as well as the Auditor General to fulfil their oversight mandate in ensuring that the Presidency accounts for the reforms it has initiated and provide a reasonable timeframe for the implementation of the outstanding reforms to be concluded. This would be central to providing the kind of progress on the steps taken to reform the State Security and where much effort is still needed to fundamentally transform the agency.
The organisations demand:
- Full disclosure around the extent of the infiltration and surveillance enacted against civil society organisations;
- Those who were/are engaged in these criminal activities and gross abuses are named, investigated, and disciplined, and/or prosecuted where appropriate; and
- President Ramaphosa must implement all of the recommendations of the High-Level Review Panel on the State Security Agency.
QUOTES FROM ORGANISATIONS:
Greenpeace Africa: Melita Steele, Interim Programme Director
“A transparent, honest, and accountable government would not feel threatened by the actions of a healthy civil society. Greenpeace Africa still does not know the full extent of the surveillance and infiltration performed against us. We demand more from our government: more accountability, more decisive action, and more transparency. The people of South Africa deserve better than an untrustworthy government.”
Right2Protest: Omhle Ntshingila, Engagement and Communications Officer
“The Right2Protest Project strongly condemns the arbitrary surveillance of CSO’S by the SSA in South Africa. The effort to demobilise and intimidate those who wish to voice out their dissent about current government operations is a direct infringement on their right to protest. This is a concern not only for CSO’s mentioned by the Zondo Commission Report but the entire sector. The Repression of activism in South Africa through state surveillance and infiltration should not be ignored but given the attention, and judicial response it deserves to protect CSO’s and activists alike.”
Right2Know: Bongani ka Mthembu, National Working Group
Spying is a violation and if the state is remorseful, it will provide the answers to Right2Know. The state is aware of its duty to tell us who infiltrated us, why we were infiltrated and how we were infiltrated. To deny us access to information, and freedom of association is to deny us our very rights.
Professor Jane Duncan, University of Johannesburg
The Zondo Commission has put a huge amount of vitally important information into the public domain about state capture and corruption under the former president. However, there is another story that is receiving insufficient attention, and that is the information that came to light about SSA’s surveillance and infiltration of civil society. Until the full extent of these violations are known, and those responsible are held to account, then all of civil society remains at risk of arbitrary state spying.
Notes to the editor
The Boast Report can be accessed here.
The letter authorising civil society to publish the boast report is accessible here.