Yes, no, maybe SA passed on coup info
Yes, no and maybe - these have been the three official answers from the government on whether South Africa conveyed intelligence leading to the arrest of 70 alleged mercenaries at Harare International Airport.
The answer given under oath in court papers - first before the Pretoria High Court and then before the Constitutional Court - was no.
Before the Pretoria High Court, the government said it was not them.
Then the legal team for the 70 men presented Judge President of the Pretoria High Court Bernard Ngoepe with a press cutting where Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said the men could not be arrested in South Africa on the basis of intelligence alone. He did, however, confirm that "some intelligence" information had passed between South Africa and Zimbabwe before the 70 alleged mercenaries left South Africa.
Counsel for the state allowed this to be handed to the court as an exhibit. Their new line was that it could be accepted that, for purposes of application, South Africa did pass on intelligence that led to the men being arrested.
Judge Ngoepe said he had insufficient information before him to find that South Africa had passed intelligence to Zimbabwe.
Then Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils confirmed that the South African Secret Service was behind the arrest of the 70 alleged mercenaries in Zimbabwe. He said there had been extensive intelligence co-operation before the arrests.
By the time the government filed papers at the Constitutional Court, disputing the men's appeal, this had once again changed.
Theresa Bezuidenhout, of the department of justice, said under oath - on behalf of all the respondents (which included the minister of intelligence) - that it was not true that the parties had agreed during the Pretoria High Court hearing that South African authorities had passed intelligence information to the Zimbabwean authorities before the arrest of the applicants.
All they had agreed to, Bezuidenhout said, was that the newspaper article be handed in to court.
In the Constitutional Court in the past week, Ismail Semenya SC, counsel for the government, when asked about this, said there had been an exchange of intelligence between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
[Source: The Independent, London, UK, 27Jul04]
|This document has been published on 23aug04 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights.|