SUNDAY TIMES – Ex-spy’s covert car lease plan with SSA backfires

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The Sunday Times has established, through his lawyer, that spy-turned-businessman Themba Dlomo had been scoring R2.5-million a month since 2012 in an agreement according to which he leased top-end vehicles to the State Security Agency (SSA). He claims not to know exactly how many vehicles.

Now it appears that the deal – which was kept off the books to give the agency “plausible deniability”, a source said – has gone sour, with Dlomo claiming he was no longer getting paid. He said “about 25 to 30” vehicles had been lent to the SSA.

Dlomo, 35, has close ties to Zuma and is married to the president’s former personal assistant, Ntokozo Luthuli. In 200 1, Zuma, who was then deputy president, officiated at the funeral of Dlomo’s father, Albert .

Dlomo’s family also has links to the spy agency. Outgoing SSA general manager for special operations Thulani Dlomo is believed to be a relative.

Publicly available documents reveal that Themba Dlomo is a director of several companies, including one named High Class Cars. It was registered in 2012, a matter of months before the date Dlomo claims to have initiated the SSA fleet deal.

An October 2015 letter of demand written by his lawyer, Lonwabo Dandala, to the SSA, states that the agency continued to use the vehicles despite his client no longer getting paid.

The letter says Dlomo is owed R75-million and had not been paid since about June 2013.

The Sunday Times also established that Dlomo met Zuma in Durban 10 days ago and pleaded for help to get the money. Zuma apparently referred him to State Security Minister David Mahlobo.

A text message was subsequently sent to Mahlobo, who has not replied.

Dandala said he was willing to go to court to get the money, and papers had been drafted. He would not answer questions over whether the contract was given to Dlomo while he was still employed by the SSA. He would also not be drawn on whether there was a formal contract.

“I don’t want to get into detail, save to say that in South African law a contract can be oral or written. It does not need to be formal and, at the end of the day, there was an agreement. My client provided a service and he deserves to be paid. He has suffered loss,” he said.

The SSA declined to comment, and Dlomo referred the Sunday Times to Dandala.

Mahlobo did not return phone calls and text messages requesting comment.

The murky deal was thrust into the spotlight after one of the cars Dlomo was apparently leasing to the SSA was stopped by suspicious Durban metro police officers in Chatsworth two weeks ago. The Golf GTI, registered in Dlomo’s name and kitted out with a blue light, had drawn the attention of the cops, who searched the car and found a gun registered with the SSA, leading to the arrest of the operative behind the wheel.

Two well-placed metro police sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the car had been pulled over with an SSA operative driving. Metro police spokesman Sbonelo Mchunu confirmed that the car had “some licensing issues”.

The charges have since been dropped after the operative produced a licence to the gun, but the car remains in a Durban pound with a traffic cone on the roof. It also emerged that the car was one of several of Dlomo’s vehicles that had amassed more than R100000 in traffic fines in Durban alone.

The 2015 letter of demand lays bare the details of Dlomo’s relationship with the spy agency.

“Our instructions are that on or about June 2013 you withheld payment of our client with respect to his motor vehicles rendering a service with the department to the sum of R2.5-million per month unlawfully and recklessly so without any justifiable reasons,” it reads.

“Such vehicles are still within your custody and we believe they have been transferred to the fleet belonging to the national security without the consent of our client. In the circumstances you are liable to the sum of R75-million in respect of all the months to which our client has not been paid for.”

The letter also says Dlomo once collected a salary from the SSA and was summarily dismissed, but does not give dates.

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