Maphatsoe under pressure to retract 'CIA comments'

Deputy Defence Minister Kebby Maphatsoe accused the Public Protector of being a CIA spy.

Deputy Defence Minister Kebby Maphatsoe accused the Public protector of being a CIA spy. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - Pressure is mounting for Deputy Defence Minister Kebby Maphatsoe to retract his statement about Public Protector Thuli Madonsela being a spy.

At the weekend Maphatsoe, who is also chairperson of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association, accused Madonsela of being deployed as a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spy, to destabilise the African National Congress (ANC) and ultimately the country.

Last month the Public Protector wrote to President Jacob Zuma, asking him when he is going to respond to her Nkandla findings, stating that he had benefitted unduly from upgrades to his homestead.

Madonsela's spokesperson Oupa Segalwe has called for the deputy defence minister to retract his statement.

"She [the Public Protector] has written to Mr Maphatsoe, requesting that he confirm if he indeed made those comments and if he would provide her with irrefutable evidence within 72 hours of receipt of the letter concerned."

Segalwe says, "Failing which, he will be left with no option but to invoke the contempt of the Public Protector powers, as envisaged in sections 9 and 11 of the Public Protector Act, which is a prison sentence or a fine."

At the same time, the South African National Defence Union (SANDU)'s Pikkie Greeff has called on the president to fire Maphatsoe for being the country into disrepute, after the United States government called the allegations baseless.

"These claims are false and they in fact constitute a criminal offence in terms of the Public Protector Act."

The ANC has since distance itself from the comments, calling on people to respect Madonsela's office.