Kasrils: Signal jammers at Sona not NIA procedure

The former intelligence minister says the use of signal blockers at public events is not standard practice.

FILE: Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils says it's not standard procedure to use signal jammers at major public events such as the State of the Nation Address (Sona).

State Security Minister David Mahlobo claims the use of signal jammers last Thursday was based on an intelligence risk assessment and was used to establish a no-fly zone.

The minister has re-emphasised that the jamming of signals inside the chamber was the result of an intelligence official leaving the device on and an investigation is now being done to determine how this happened.

The signal jamming prevented members of the media from communicating on their cellphones and distributing information from inside the National Assembly.

It was unblocked after an unprecedented protest from journalists who chanted 'Bring back the signal'.

WATCH: MPs and journalists chant 'Bring back the signal'.

But Kasrils says he never allowed such devices to be used at events like the opening of Parliament while he was intelligence minister.

"When it's used, it would be via a Cabinet meeting so that mobile phones that are brought in can't be used to send out signals or record the secret nature of such talks."

He's also questioned Mahlobo's reasoning for using jammers to set up a no-fly zone.

"There are many tall buildings around right over the road and on the top floor there is the stream of state security to deal with any threats from the skies."

Mahlobo told Eyewitness News there was more than one signal jamming device used during the Sona.

Mahlobo says it will not be the last time such a device is used.

In a statement released by Mahlobo on Wednesday, he said there was no executive or political decision to interfere with the free-flow of information and what happened was unintentional.

He added that the State Security Agency was responsible for the threat and risk assessment for the event.

Mahlobo is holding a press conference at this hour and is facing a barrage of questions from journalists.