Spy cables reveal SA’s leaky intelligence controls

Foreign intelligence services have been allowed unrestricted access to critical information.

A Screengrab from Al Jazeera’s Spy Cables video shows a South African State Security leaked document."

JOHANNESBURG - The latest batch of spy cables has revealed the South African government's porous security and intelligence controls have allowed foreign intelligence services unrestricted access to critical information.

A digital leak to Al Jazeera of hundreds of secret intelligence documents from the world's spy agencies has offered unprecedented insight into operational dealings of the shadowy and highly politicised realm of global espionage.

A 2009 report reveals national intelligence agency concerns over diplomatic cover being used to obtain access to certain individuals and institutions.

Foreign intelligence services also reportedly used diplomatic privileges to gain access to critical information and infrastructure.

Al Jazeera spoke to former intelligence services minister Ronnie Kasrils, who says the interest in South Africa comes as no surprise.

"Name of the game is that intelligence services around the world are interested in the secrets of other countries. South Africa is a big player on the continent."

The State Security Agency (SSA) is expected to respond to the leaks.


The spy cables have shown a strained relationship between the country's intelligence community and Israel's Mossad, characterised by mistrust and a reluctance to share information.

The government revoked diplomatic status that had been afforded to certain airline security staff.

In other instances, Israel's intelligence agency was frustrated that the South African authorities declined to share certain information with them.

Relations between the agencies deteriorated to the point that Mossad withdrew its representative from the country.

Kasrils ordered an audit of the information the National Intelligence Agency shared with Mossad.


The SSA has warned the leak has the potential to undermine national security and adds that disclosing such information is illegal.

The agency said in a statement, that disclosing classified information has the dangerous effect of undermining the operational effectiveness of efforts to secure the country's borders, as well as souring diplomatic relations with the international community.

State Security Minister David Mahlobo is said to have noted the leaks with concern.

The SSA says that it's illegal to disclose classified information and that a full investigation into the breach is being conducted.

The agency says government has also noted some reports of the spying activities of certain politicians, which is says it will also investigate.