Thefts and break-ins raise some suspicions

Natasha Marrian

A STRING of break-ins at the offices of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and thefts from academics studying service delivery protests and the Marikana massacre have led to questions over the possible involvement of state intelligence.

Voices critical of the state have accused it of attempting to silence them through using state institutions.

This includes Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema and suspended Congress of SA Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

Peter Alexander‚ research chairman in social change and professor of sociology at the University of Johannesburg‚ said his team would not be intimidated after a string of events that led him to believe there was an attempt to spook them.

Alexander and his team were the first to reveal the existence of the “killing koppie” at Marikana. They wrote a book on it‚ which was critical of the police.

However‚ the sequence of events that raised Alexander’s suspicions occurred after a media briefing by the team on protests, in which they revealed that 43 protesters had been killed by police since 2004.

“At first I thought it was somebody in the state who wanted our data‚ but apparently the intelligence service people can do that without us knowing. I’ve spoken to several people who have some understanding of these things and they all say it is about intimidation‚” Alexander said.

The team’s main research is on community protests.

Numsa deputy general secretary Karl Cloete said the union’s Newtown headquarters had been broken into eight times in the past year.

State Security Agency spokesman Brian Dube said the department’s mandate was clear – to ensure national security.

“We are guided by the laws of the country and our mandate‚” he said.

 

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