State Security Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba's office finally broke its silence on Wednesday, issuing a late-night statement denying claims made in a weekend newspaper that she had lived a double life for a decade, earning millions as a spy while still an MEC in Limpopo.
The curt statement simply reads: "The State Security Agency (SSA) is ordinarily loathe to comment on its methods and resources.
"However, in light of the article published in Independent Newspapers group on 19 May 2019 alleging that Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba was an agent of the SSA, it is in the public interest element that we respond.
"In this regard we wish to categorically state that Minister Letsatsi-Duba has never been a source or agent of the SSA."
The Sunday Independent reported that four independent and well-placed sources had said her so-called spy activities had been conducted through a front company, Motse Pele Security, which she co-founded with her late husband Mose Jacob Duba in 1996. She was reportedly, until recently, one of the directors.
The publication reported that through this company, the State Security Agency (SSA) bought luxury cars and rented safe houses in the country and abroad.
According to the front-page article, a senior official at the agency said Letsatsi-Duba was used to spy on her cadres ahead of the ANC's Polokwane conference in 12 years ago and had earned millions for her efforts.
It was also further alleged that the minister had spied on her comrades between 2005 until recently, when her services were ostensibly terminated by former state security minister, David Mahlobo.
It reported that the company had been in possession of the agency's cars until late 2018, when a whistleblower told President Cyril Ramaphosa's high level review panel (HLRP) about it. According to the article, Letsatsi-Duba thereafter secretly returned the cars to the agency.
A senior SSA official accused the panel of not disclosing information about Letsatsi-Duba's alleged activities in its report.
The article comes just two days after News24 reported on former SSA director general (DG) Arthur Fraser saying the HLRP had essentially lied to Ramaphosa in its report.
Released in March this year, the report was scathing of the state of the intelligence agencies. The 10-member panel, chaired by Dr Sydney Mufamadi, found widespread abuse of the country's intelligence services for political ends, including internal ANC factional battles.
Letsatsi-Duba in March warned that nobody implicated in the report revealing gross abuses of power to fight factional battles during former president Jacob Zuma's administration would "get away" with it.
In an interview on the 702 breakfast show, she said "everybody who was involved in wrongdoing must be accountable. We are going to bring all the documents in the report and hand it over to the law enforcement agencies".
This, after the findings revealed that, not only was the SSA repurposed to serve Zuma's interests, but was also set up irregularly in terms of the Constitution, which requires intelligence structures to be set up through legislative changes and not presidential proclamations.
Ramaphosa appointed Letsatsi-Duba Minister of State Security in February 2018. Previously, she was the Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration.
While Fraser did not get close to identifying anyone as having been a spy, in a document seen by News24, he set out the reasons why the panel's findings would have given Ramaphosa a tainted view of the problems in the intelligence agencies. Fraser's lawyer, Rapulane Kgoroeadira, confirmed to News24 on Friday morning that the document was authored by the former spy boss.
Fraser declined to comment to the newspaper on Letsatsi-Duba's alleged spy activities.
The Sunday Independent article further alleged that after she was appointed Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration, Letsatsi-Duba approached Fraser and demanded millions in outstanding payments for her supposed spy services, for which she was only paid "a certain portion".