August 20, 2019

Dlamini Zuma still receiving VIP protection

Six months after the news first emerged that ANC presidential hopeful Dr Nkosazana Ndlamini Zuma was receiving VIP protection services nothing has changed, despite the public outcry.

Her protectors may have been switched since the Presidential Protection Unit (PPU) handed her over to the Protection and Security Services (PSS), but she remains under SAPS VIP protection.

The handover to PSS was supposed to take place when she vacated her post as Chairperson of the Africa Union (AU). However, the Police Committee heard last week that it actually only happened on 1 August.

South African taxpayers have been paying for presidential-level protection for an ordinary South African citizen.

This means that South African taxpayers have paid for presidential-level protection for an ordinary South African citizen.

The DA's Kohler Barnard said that SAPS had been protecting a civilian at the expense of other citizens in need of the same protection. It was not up to taxpayers to protect civilians.

The Committee has been trying to pin down the difference between SAPS’s PPU and PSS services, with little success. PPU is reserved for Presidents, Vice Presidents, Visiting Presidents and other such high level officials, like the sitting Chairperson of the AU.

According to the SAPS website, its PSS is responsible for the protection, while in transit, of the President, Deputy President, former Presidents, and their spouses, and other identified VIPs. It also provides Static and Mobile Security for other local and foreign VIPs; the places in which all VIPs including persons related to the President and the Deputy President are present; and valuable government cargo.

It is unclear into which category a former wife of the President and a past AU Chairperson falls.

While this does raise questions about why one presidential hopeful continued to receive VIP protection beyond that clearly provided for in the Act, taxpayers need not worry unduly as this will soon come to an end. Ndlamini Zuma was recently sworn in as an MP and is unlikely to remain a backbencher for long. She will soon be entitled to the protection provided to all Cabinet Ministers, and taxpayers have always paid for that.

When the news emerged in April that the unemployed former AU Chairperson was getting the blue light treatment, the SAPS’s response was confused at best. Then acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane announced that she remained eligible for presidential protection for one month after her AU deployment ended.

At the same time the public was also told that a risk assessment conducted by the State Security Agency (SSA) had revealed the existence of a threat to Dlamini Zuma and she was provided protection in terms of the Strategic Intelligence Act. That applies to any citizen who requests protection, as long as an official investigation considers it justified.

That was in May, but at last week’s Police Committee meeting, Lt Gen Khehla Sitole confirmed that Dlamini Zuma continued to receive the level of protection she had received as AU Chairperson for an additional ten months after she had vacated the post. He gave no reason for this, other than to say that the SAPS had not been ready for the handover any sooner.

Committee members also failed to reach clarity on how long Dlamini Zuma would continue to receive VIP protection and at what level.

Security threats are required to be re-evaluated by crime intelligence and the SAPS after every quarter, and it appears that no further report was ever completed. Or if it was, no one was told.

The previous quarter ended on 31 September and Lt Gen Sithole told the Police Committee that an assessment was done and a decision was supposed to be made last Friday about whether the VIP protection must continue or not?

Petrus Groenewald of the FF+ told Notes from the House that acting national police commissioner Lt Gen Phahlane had confirmed in an earlier Committee meeting that a report on the matter would be completed at the end of July, when the PPS protection ended, and a new assessment would be made. That too was never made clear.

Meanwhile, as pointed out by Groenewald, while the Committee was waiting for another assessment to be finalised, Dlamini Zuma was still enjoying VIP protection. He has repeatedly asked Sithole to explain the difference between PPU and PSS, but received no reply.

There was further debate in the Committee, with Groenewald asking if anyone else other than the President, Deputy President and cabinet members were receiving protection, and who they were.

The Chairperson put a halt to that, saying that the Committee had to respect the confidentiality of the individuals to protect their safety.

Groenewald agreed security was necessary, but he did not believe it applied in this particular case. Both types of protection appeared to be the same, and it was unfair for the taxpayers to have to pay for it.

“There is no doubt that the taxpayers’ money is [being] misused for political purposes to protect Nkosazana Ndlamini Zuma and the SAPS is hiding behind and misusing the term ‘for security reasons no detail can be revealed’,” he said.

Lt Gen Sitole said that the policy laid down the rules of deployment. However, in ad hoc cases, the policy did not determine the numbers of deployment since they were determined by the nature and level of the threat. There were three categories of threat levels -- low, medium and high profile – but he was not in a position to disclose the level of threat faced by Dlamini Zuma or the resources deployed to protect her as that would be a violation of the Strategic Intelligence Act.

By Moira Levy

Additional information sourced from

Additional Info

  • Author: Moira Levy
Last modified on Tuesday, 16 January 2018 18:41

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Notes from the House is an independent online publication that tracks and monitors Parliament’s role in fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities to improve the lives of South African citizens. Published by Moira Levy with the support of the Claude Leon Foundation.

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