Over 10 years‚ police reported only two VIP security breaches — and neither was the poisoning of then-president Jacob Zuma in 2014.
In a report on the government’s 6‚600-strong private army of VIP protectors that he says costs R2.6-billion a year‚ Gareth van Onselen says he combed through South African Police Service annual reports between 2007/08 and 2016/17 looking for evidence of threats to VIPs.
In 2010/11‚ “one security breach occurred during the second quarter while protecting a South African VIP at Tshwane University of Technology”. And in 2011/12‚ “a security breach occurred at Danielskuil in the Northern Cape in respect of the protection of an MEC”.
Van Onselen‚ whose report was published by the South African Institute of Race Relations‚ said this was “difficult to reconcile with the public record”‚ because as recently as August and November 2017 Zuma had confirmed being poisoned.
Onselen quoted Zuma – who has 88 protectors‚ according to the report – as saying in August: “I was poisoned and almost died just because South Africa joined Brics under my leadership. They said I was going to destroy the country.
“I nearly died because they did poison me. They managed to find someone close to me and I know it. I was dead. They don’t believe how I survived. Not one dose‚ because the person who was poisoning me was so innocent‚ so close. Three doses. Even scientists can’t believe why I did not die.”
In November‚ said Van Onselen‚ Zuma told ANN7: “I was poisoned‚ some people wanted me dead‚ indeed it was quite a strong poison and I did go through a challenging time.”
Van Onselen points out that the 2014 SAPS annual report said “no security breaches occurred” in relation the presidential protection services.
“By the president’s own admission‚ however‚ security … was clearly violated. There was‚ in June 2014‚ an attempted assassination of the president by poison‚ which was successfully administered to the president and which‚ by his own account‚ resulted in severe physical harm‚ a medical emergency and ultimately in his near death.”
The IRR report said First Lady Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma was being investigated by the Hawks for allegedly poisoning Zuma‚ though she had not been charged and had denied guilt.
“If there is any truth to the suspicion that the First Lady was involved‚ that would constitute a double breach — for she‚ just like the president‚ is protected by the presidential protection services‚” says Van Onselen.
“Likewise‚ if there is any truth to the president’s assertion that the attempt followed his policy on Brics‚ it constitutes an intensely political attack and‚ simultaneously‚ a failure of the intelligence services.”