'It comes with the territory': defence minister on Jacob Zuma death threats

Former president Jacob Zuma takes a lunch break at the state capture commission of inquiry in Parktown, where he is giving testimony for the third day on July 17 2019.
Former president Jacob Zuma takes a lunch break at the state capture commission of inquiry in Parktown, where he is giving testimony for the third day on July 17 2019.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula did not want to be drawn into former president Jacob Zuma's claims that his life was under threat from foreign and local intelligence organisations, but remarked that such threats came with being a president.

Mapisa-Nqakula said even former statesman Nelson Mandela faced threats despite being well loved and respected.

"I don't think I want to be drawn into what issues that come of the commission on state capture, whether there is a threat against anyone.

Former president Jacob Zuma continues his testimony at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture on July 17 2019. NOTE: This session will start at 14:00 CAT

"As far as I am concerned if you are a head of state, one of the things you live with, you live with some form of threat one way or the other including the current head of state and including Madiba," she said.

The minister was responding to a journalist's question as to whether military intelligence had been aware of any threats to Zuma.

Mapisa-Nqakula said as peaceful as Madiba was, and despite his nation-building efforts, he still had to be secured because if you are a head of state it comes with the package and it also comes with threats.

"I'm assuming that in the context of the former heads of state … this matter would prevail, not that there is something extraordinary about him," added the minister.

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Appearing before the commission of inquiry into state capture on Monday, Zuma told the commission a long story about a three-decade conspiracy involving three intelligence agencies trying to get rid of him.

He said there had been several threats to his life, including poisoning and deployment of suicide bombers to a Maskhandi music concert earlier this year. On Tuesday morning, the former president began his testimony by informing the inquiry that following his appearance on Monday, his PA had received a phone call with further threats to Zuma and his children.

"This person said, 'you must tell Zuma, we are going to kill him, and we are going to kill his children and the people around him'," he said.

Mapisa-Nqakula said the defence department did not have any kind of information on the "plot" but emphasised that all heads of state are provided with security. "He does have security around him," she added.

Former president Jacob Zuma made a startling opening to the second day of the state capture inquiry in Johannesburg on July 16 2019. Zuma told the commission that his life as well as his children’s lives had been threatened by an unknown caller who phoned his PA on July 15 2019 after his first day of testimony.


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