I am a police spy, says Times senior journalist.



BY : ZWELI MARTIN DLAMINI

MBABANE:: Times Sunday journalist and former President of the Swaziland National Association of Journalists (SNAJ) Mfankhona Nkambule is an alleged police spy, an independent investigation reveals.

The Times senior journalist has been used by the police to spy members of the progressive movement and other influential people who knew him as a journalist. This is contained in series of “intercepted emails” with documentary evidence from the Times of Swaziland that further discloses how Nkambule wrote to Isaac Magagula, the then National Commissioner of Police seeking immunity in the midst of a criminal investigation allegedly because he was a police spy. In the letter, Nkambule said the mere fact that he was a spy suggest that he should receive special treatment from the police.

The investigation regarding the criminal activities of the journalist were conducted by senior police investigator Joseph Bhembe, the then Head of the Organized Crime who happens to be the founder of the Crime Intelligence Department in the police service. An independent investigation by this Swaziland News Centre for Investigative Journalism uncovered that or around June 2013, Innocent Maphalala, the then editor of the Times Sunday allegedly got hold of the ‘spy letter’ where Nkambule was corresponding with the then National Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula seeking both investigation and prosecution immunity as benefits for being a police spy. This was after the police concluded their investigation and referred the file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The letter dated 30 May 2013,was subsequently forwarded by Innocent Maphalala to Martin Dlamini, the Managing Editor of the Times of Swaziland. Reached for comments, Maphalala confirmed the matter saying he was shocked that for so many years he had been working with a police spy.

“ I don’t like discussing Times of Swaziland issues because I no longer work there. However, I can confirm knowledge of a letter to the then National Commissioner written by Mfankhona Nkambule, who was under my supervision at the time. When I learned of this letter after getting a copy from my sources, I forwarded it to Martin Dlamini, the Managing editor hoping he would take action. As far as I recall, Martin did not do anything about it save to sit down with me to discuss it. He had promised to inform the publisher Paul Loffler and get advise from him on the next step to take” said the former Times Sunday editor.

When reached for comments Nkambule sounded shocked that the secret information has reached this publication, he paused for sometime denying the allegations before cutting-off the conversation.

“I am not aware of the letter you talking about, please ask Isaac Magagula as well about it” he said Nkambule later sent a screen shot of an article from his computer saying he had already started writing an opinion piece about this journalist. After about 30 minutes, Nkambule called and tried to intimidate this reporter saying he would publish an article and scandalize him. The Times journalist, instead of responding to the questions regarding the emails that implicates him in spying on behalf of the police demanded information regarding a story that appeared in the Swaziland Shopping about Victor Gamedze and the King.

“ The article I am writing about you is about your treasonous article about the King and certain businessman. We have not forgotten about it and you have to give the Nation the necessary information to form an impression about the assassination you talked about about” he said.

Nkambule, who seems to have been overtaken by events on the matter he was referring to could not elaborate why he wants the information to be provided to him. On or around 29 June 2013, Mfankhona Nkambule wrote a letter to Isaac Magagula, the then National Commissioner of Police saying he was disgruntled because he had been working with the Police Intelligence Department for many years hence he must not be prosecuted for any criminal activity. “I am disgruntled because I have been a police informer for many years working closely with the Intelligence Department, violating ethics of journalism to get information which police used to detect political crimes. I can list five police officers I have worked with- I mean police officers who taught me how to be a police spy, using dirty means to collect the information” Nkambule stated in the letter. Police Spokesperson Phindile Vilakati could not respond on the subject matter. But Assistant Commissioner Joseph Bhembe, the retired Hhohho Regional Commissioner confirmed working on a criminal investigation that involve the Times Sunday journalist. Bhembe, a former head of the Organized Crime Unit said in their investigations, they discovered that Nkambule was part of the syndicate that was using the name of a prominent businessman to extort money from people. Bhembe said the syndicate was also using the newspaper to twist information so they can hide their dirty dealings.

Nkambule, who seems to have been overtaken by events on the matter he was referring to could not elaborate why he wants the information to be provided to him. On or around 29 June 2013, Mfankhona Nkambule wrote a letter to Isaac Magagula, the then National Commissioner of Police saying he was disgruntled because he had been working with the Police Intelligence Department for many years hence he must not be prosecuted for any criminal activity. “I am disgruntled because I have been a police informer for many years working closely with the Intelligence Department, violating ethics of journalism to get information which police used to detect political crimes. I can list five police officers I have worked with- I mean police officers who taught me how to be a police spy, using dirty means to collect the information” Nkambule stated in the letter. Police Spokesperson Phindile Vilakati could not respond on the subject matter. But Assistant Commissioner Joseph Bhembe, the retired Hhohho Regional Commissioner confirmed working on a criminal investigation that involve the Times Sunday journalist. Bhembe, a former head of the Organized Crime Unit said in their investigations, they discovered that Nkambule was part of the syndicate that was using the name of a prominent businessman to extort money from people. Bhembe said the syndicate was also using the newspaper to twist information so they can hide their dirty dealings.

Akasudlala lomfana, mosi vele uyaganga, kona kwake kwavetwa yini uma uspy ngoba kuba yindzaba yakho naloyo lom-spyelako?(meaning: The boy must stop playing games, as he committed crimes. If he is a spy, why he revealed that? Yena loMagagula wakhe akasbitanga ngani-pho tsine asichazela kutsi spy sini lesi lesihamba siveta kutsi sona si-spy? We completed that criminal investigation a long time ago and the file is with the DPP” said the retired senior police officer. The senior Police Officer sounded surprised that Nkambule tried to intimidate this journalist by demanding information about the story regarding Victor Gamedze’s plot to kill the King.

“ Why he is demanding that information from you instead of responding to your questions? Utayentani le-information?, watini yena ngalendzana leyo?” said the former Hhohho Regional Commissioner