Hlaudi Motsoeneng brought in the State Security Agency (SSA) to help him ferret out senior employees at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), according to reports.
Two former finance officials at the broadcaster told the Sunday Times how Motsoeneng wanted to purge them and two colleagues, how SSA agents went to one of their home towns in Limpopo to look for personal information and how these agents demanded one official take polygraph tests.
Motsoeneng has been removed for his position as group executive for corporate affairs by the Western Cape High Court. He has also been the subject of an investigation into the affairs of the SABC by a parliamentary committee.
According to the Sunday Times, the spooks were called in under the pretext that four employees – Itani Tseisi, Henk Lamberts, Angus Summers and Andries van Dyk – leaked documents to the newspaper.
Tseisi told the newspaper the SSA investigation wasn't authorised by the board and if an investigation was warranted it should have been done by internal auditors or the forensic department.
He was also lambasted by Motsoeneng because he gave evidence to Thuli Madonsela during the public protector's investigation into the SABC. Motsoeneng apparently said Tseisi told Madonsela he (Motsoeneng) was "connected" and disrespectful of the board.
Brian Dube, SSA spokesperson, said the country's spies are often requested by state institutions to help with internal investigations and that they merely assist with probes. All information is handed over to the proper authorities. "It is standard procedure and happens quite often. I cannot however comment on individual cases."
However, Vincent Smith, veteran MP for the African National Congress (ANC) and chairperson of the committee investigating the SABC, disputes this. "I doesn't sound normal to me. The SSA certainly is useful in vetting (senior positions) but not further than that. Most government departments have internal investigation units, like for example the Department of Correctional Services."
He didn't want to comment further, but confirmed allegations around the SSA' s involvement in the SABC's internal affairs will be addressed.
SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago declined to confirm or deny the report, saying the matter is before Parliament. "If I would give comment, it would be disrespectful."