During the January 25 sitting of the State Capture Commission, Sydney Mufamadi, the chairperson of the high-level panel into the State Security Agency (SSA) told the commission that the Fees Must Fall movement was infiltrated by the SSA.
Mufamadi said the SSA panel was told that Project Academia was designed to intervene in the #FeesMustFall protests and influence the direction of the student movement. The #FeesMustFall movement was a student movement started in 2016 that called for tuition-fee university, outsourcing and decolonisation about universities amongst other demands.
Mufamadi said the main agent in this project was someone called Murray who was sent on training to a foreign country. Thulani Dlomo was the SSA general manager: special operations and later deputy director-general: counter intelligence. Dlomo told the panel the purpose of Project Academia was to support “young bright minds” to be patriotic and to be strategically deployed to institute countermeasures and ensure stability and peace in our universities.
Mufamadi’s revelations are not the first time there have been reports of infiltration in the student movement. In his 2017 book, The President’s Keepers, Jacques Pauw detailed how the crime intelligence unit of the South African Police Service infiltrated and spied on the Fees Must Fall movement.
He revealed that crime intelligence reportedly recruited students as agents and agreed to pay them cash and their fees and other expenses in return for infiltrating the movement.
In 2016, then minister of state security, David Mahlobo claimed that student surveillance was justified.