Flaws and security lapses within South Africa’s government and intelligence services have left secrets exposed to foreign spies at every level, according to leaked documents released by Al-Jazeera.
The documents claimed that a secret security assessment by South African intelligence said foreign espionage was booming, with South Africa doing a “poor job” of protecting itself.
Over 140 foreign spies are estimated to be operating in South Africa, gaining access to government departments, ministries and “even the presidency”, according to the report.
They are suspected of breaking into nuclear power plants, stealing military blueprints and hacking into computers.
The report said civil servants failed to observe basic procedures, leaving classified information unlocked, and new recruits were not adequately vetted.
The secret assessment of security vulnerabilities, written in October 2009 by South African intelligence, concluded information security was at “serious risk” and would remain so in the “long term”.
Al-Jazeera reported that another spy cable revealed that South Africa had “experienced the theft of Rooivalk helicopter blueprints by a known foreign intelligence service”.
The document also said that in the plan to expand South Africa’s nuclear energy capacity France and America had been “working frantically” to influence the bidding process.
South African spies have “not been able to neutralise their activities” because of the “sophistication of their covert operations and lack of counterespionage capacity” it said. — Sapa