Book Extract: How the police spied on Fees Must Fall

Investigative journalist Jacques Pauw’s new book, The President’s Keepers, contains many explosive revelations about President Jacob Zuma’s ties to underworld figures, his tax returns and much more. Last week the Sunday Times published an extract detailing how the president is tied to cigarette smugglers, and the Daily Maverick published another, detailing again how the South African Revenue Service is collapsing at the behest of its purported leader Tom Moyane.

Last year during a panel discussion, the state security minister at the time David Mahlobo (now minister of energy) justified the surveillance of protests including Fees Must Fall but as other reports have shown, the reason why protesters are being spied on is because there is a real paranoia in certain security circles that they may yet lead to an Arab Spring-style popular revolution in South Africa.

The Daily Vox now publishes a short extract on how the crime intelligence unit of the South African Police Service infiltrated and spied on the Fees Must Fall movement.

One of the projects crime intelligence registered was the “Fees Must Fall” campaign which spread across South African universities in 2016. Crime intelligence recruited students as agents and agreed to pay them cash and their fees, accommodation, cellphones and other expenses in return for infiltrating student organisations that advocated free higher education. By the first half of 2017, the money for the project was gone. They couldn’t pay the newly recruited agents’ class fees or any of their living costs. The project has ground to a halt.

My sources gave much of the blame for the shambles that is crime intelligence to the quality of people who have wormed their way into the unit. Many of the friends, girlfriends and family members that Mdluli and his cronies appointed are still employed.

One would have thought that after the fiasco of appointing someone like convicted drug dealer Timmy Marimuthu as an agent, new vetting measures would have been introduced to prevent the police’s most secretive unit from being captured by shady characters.

Featured image by Yeshiel Panchia