Saturday, June 15, 2024

DIS denies unlawful surveillance and interception of communications

Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS)Director General Peter Magosi says he is the only one in the DIS to authorize surveillance if it is to be carried out. Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee on Monday, Magosi responded to allegations that his organization may be conducting surveillance on members of the public.

He said he is doing everything to ensure that there is nothing that is done outside the rule of law, emphasizing that every activity that he has ever authorized is within the law.

However, Magosi could not deny that there could be some officers within the organization that may be misusing government resources for their own benefit. “But if they are doing the work for the benefit of the organization I am the only person who will authorize that.”

The DIS Director General said in 2020/21 they noticed that there were officers that claimed to be with the organization but were not, officers who were using the organization’s resources to do criminal activities.

He mentioned that he cannot deny that he could be having officers who are surveilling members of the public for their own benefit. Adding that they had instances where former members of the DIS were intercepted at the border on their way to meet people who were supposed to come and harm people living in this country.

“There is a lot happening because of the prevailing situation in this country. We will not be able to share openly because most of our operations are secret but when we say the President and some Ministers’ lives are in danger, it is a fact, it is true, very very true. These are the difficulties we find ourselves in.”

He said back in 2019 some politicians have accused DIS of surveilling them and if you ask them today they say it was just politics. “So surveillance is not done on members of the public without authority.”

Magosi also said that contrary to popular belief they don’t intercept communications first before obtaining a court order. He said they do not do that, adding that they have only requested a few court orders to intercept communications.

“Operationally, the work of state security is not in the open. It depends on the leader, are you loyal,are you doing things with integrity. If today I decide to be rogue, there are so many things that I can do without government.”

He said even though there are certain operations that they will do without public knowledge, everything must be done within the rule of law.

Mmapula Molapong is a journalist researching on digital surveillance with the support of the Media Policy & Democracy Project (MPDP), run by the University of Johannesburg, Department of Communication and Media.

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