The State Security Agency (SSA) would not be drawn to confirm or deny whether a secret operation was taking place at the SABC’s Durban offices as alleged by the staff on Wednesday.
In a cryptic comment, an SSA spokesman said staff should ask the SABC if the broadcaster had done anything in the past that would have resulted in the involvement of the department now.
“The SABC needs to explain to its staff what is happening. The allegations that the agency was working there emanated from the staff.
“The staff wrote to the CEO asking for an explanation, so the CEO must deal with the questions,” SSA spokesman Brian Dube said on Thursday.
He referred all questions to the SABC.
On Thursday, Dube was quoted in the Mercury as having said “government departments and public entities invited the agency to assist with various activities”.
“The SABC should explain to its employees what it is that it the SABC itself has done in the past which might have involved an agency like ours.”
On Wednesday, a union lifted the lid into alleged suspicious activity taking place at the state broadcaster’s Durban office.
President of the Broadcast Electronic Media and Allied Workers’ Union Hannes du Buisson wrote a letter to SABC CEO Frans Matlala on Tuesday, requesting answers.
“They [the National Intelligence Agency] have instructed employees to leave their offices while operators spent between two and three hours per office for a purpose unknown to the employees.
“We have furthermore been informed that employees were instructed to keep quiet about this and were threatened with action should they tell anybody…”
“We request your urgent intervention, assistance and explanation. We request that this secret operation be stopped and the purpose and intent be communicated to staff,” read the letter.
Du Buisson said several offices had been affected, including logistics, airtime, airtime sales and news.
“What is happening there is unheard of. The SABC has its own internal audit department. I think this is an intimidation plot to prevent staff from disseminating any information in the future,” he said.
News24 sent Matlala a detailed e-mail seeking answers about the allegations — which he promised to investigate — but referred the publication to SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago.
He has yet to respond.
It is understood that last week there was a fire drill where the whole building was evacuated, but sources said there was nothing unusual about the drill. — News24