DA questions origin of spy tapes

Johannesburg - Former crime intelligence head Mulangi Mphego's concerns over the veracity of secret recordings of conversations that led to corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma being withdrawn, strengthens the case for them to be made public, the DA said on Monday.

"This further enforces our position that the tapes must be revealed and that the truth behind the dropping of charges against Zuma must be made known," said Democratic Alliance spokesperson James Selfe.

"This calls into question whether the tapes, used by former national director of public prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe as reason to drop over 700 charges of fraud and corruption against Zuma, are genuine articles," Selfe said in a statement, following a newspaper report on Sunday.

"It also calls into question where the tapes originate from, and who was responsible for their recording. If the tapes are not genuine, or did not emanate from the correct spy agencies, they would be inadmissible in support of Mpshe’s decision on the Zuma charges."

Political interference

The DA was reacting to a report in The Sunday Independent, which quoted Mphego as saying the spy tapes Mpshe listened to could not have come from national crime intelligence.

"I listened to all the tapes. I was surprised when I saw Mpshe on TV stating the reasons for dropping the charges," Mphego told the newspaper.

"I was shocked because I could not reconcile what he was saying with what I knew [about the content of the tapes]".

Mpshe took the decision to terminate the corruption case against Zuma in April 2009, paving the way for him to become president.

At the time, Mpshe suggested that certain tapes containing communication intercepts had disclosed evidence of political interference in Zuma's case.

Mphego - who headed up crime intelligence at the time the "spy tapes" scandal erupted - said the tapes Mpshe cited, in making his decision to drop the charges, could not have come from crime intelligence.

"The tapes that he [Mpshe] is referring to, are not the tapes I listened to. I'm very firm on that," he said.

Different tapes?

Mpshe told the newspaper he could not be certain Mphego listened to the same tapes he had, since he had left them at the National Intelligence Agency.

"I was not with him [Mphego] when I listened to them. Neither did I discuss it with him. How do I know we listened to the same tapes?"

Mpshe argued that Mphego's comments could also have arisen out of different interpretations of the tapes' content.

Mpshe said he continued to believe his decision at the time to drop charges was the correct one.

The DA has already obtained an order from the North Gauteng High Court ordering the NPA to hand over a copy of certain tapes.

Zuma is appealing the decision.

The matter will be heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal on August 15.