#SpyCables: Leaks should ‘prompt SA intelligence rethink’

The leak has been described as the biggest intelligence breach in SA's democratic history.

FILE: A screengrab from the Al Jazeera Spy Cables video.

JOHANNESBURG - Two former diplomats have told Eyewitness News the Spy Cables leak should prompt a thorough rethink on how the State Security Agency manages top secret information.

Widespread security deficiencies and a lack of control over classified information have created an intelligence free-for-all, where foreign spies have unfettered access to South Africa's corridors of power.

This is revealed in the latest batch of spy cables released by the Al Jazeera network that exposes the extent to which foreign intelligence services have infiltrated the South African government.

"A secret report from December 2009 says they have total freedom of access to ministries, parliament security installations, posing threats to national security. Another reveal South Africa suspects there are over 140 spies in the country."

The leak has been described as the biggest intelligence breach in South Africa's democratic history.

Former Spy Chief Barry Gilder told the network that the new South Africa opened up the borders to the world's spies, as interest grew in the fledgling democracy.

The 11 page document describes dozens of security, from minor issues like laptops not being password protected, to Iranian and Chinese delegations having unrestricted access to Koeberg Nuclear Power Station and state arms manufacturer Denel.

_ Watch: _ 'Spy Cables: Israeli cable reveals South Africa missile theft cover-up'

But among the greatest concerns for local spies, were foreign intelligence services using diplomatic privileges to gain access to critical information and infrastructure.

Watch: 'Spy Cables: South African spies wary of Iran operations'

They found these services enjoyed uncontrolled access to the departments of international relations as well as trade and industry.

The foreign spies exploited the lack of security and inadequate control to also have access to Parliament as well as the offices of the provincial governments.

The State Security Agency has indicated that it would respond to these leaks today.