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Madonsela: CIA claims endangering my family

Thuli Madonsela says claims that she is a CIA spy have left some of her family members in fear.

Thuli Madonsela says the CIA spy agent claims have left some of her family members in fear.

CAPE TOWN - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela says some of her family members fear for their safety after she was accused of being a spy for the US government.

The claim was made by Deputy Defense Minister Kebby Maphatsoe last week.

Maphatsoe said Madonsela was suspected to be working with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Maphatsoe was addressing hundreds of people at the unveiling of a tombstone for former Umkhonto we Sizwe combatant Linda Jabane in Soweto.

However, after pressure was applied on Maphatsoe, he then retracted his remarks and apologised after he was hauled over the coals.

Madonsela says her family fears claims that she's a traitor and a foreign agent may have far-reaching consequences.

She says the CIA agent claims also got some of her colleagues worried.

"A member of my team raised a question that this is hate speech and hate speech is incitement to harm."

Madonsela says the deputy minister's statements could be taken seriously by some members of the public.

"Some of them might then assume its true and that could extend to them defending the country against a foreign agent."

The Public Protector says she's still considering whether she should accept Maphatsoe's apology.

Last month she wrote to President Jacob Zuma, asking him when he's going to respond to her Nkandla findings, stating that he had benefitted unduly from upgrades to his homestead.

The association said Madonsela was playing a "dangerous" game by launching an attack on the country's president and the ruling party.

Maphatsoe said Madonsela is only human and must accept she made a mistake by finding that Zuma unduly benefited from his Nkandla upgrades.

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

US SLAMS ALLEGATIONS

At the same time, the US Embassy has rejected claims that Madonsela is a CIA agent as offensive and is now warning it will lodge an official complaint through diplomatic channels.

US Embassy Spokesperson Jack Hillmeyer said in a statement this week that the US categorically rejects the baseless and offensive accusations from the deputy minister.

South Africa's relations with the US have been warm following last year's visit by President Barack Obama.

But the deputy minister's remarks and the terse response from the embassy indicate that nothing should be taken for granted in dealing with the world's last remaining super power.

The extent of Washington's anger and the consequences for South Africa will become clear.

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