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Goche speaks on spies

Dumisani Muleya

STATE Security minister Nicholas Goche has broken his silence on the ongoing espionage saga, saying the truth will soon come out on the alleged undercover work by foreign-hired locals.

Goche said the court proceedings and further investigations of accused Zanu PF members and a veteran diplomat facing charges of selling classified state secrets to foreign agents would reveal the truth.

“People will definitely get to know what has been happening,” Goche said.

“We are still investigating and the matter is going on in the courts. The truth will soon come out.

“Investigations are going on and the matter is sub judice,” he said.

Goche dismissed reports that he was involved in the spy case.

“I don’t want to give lies any respect. Those are just lies,” he said.

“I have seen website stories saying I knew about this and did nothing about it. Those are lies. Who is investigating the matter now?

“You are a seasoned journalist and I don’t think you want us to discuss such stupid things. I have no personal views on lies.”

Zanu PF provincial chairman and MP Phillip Chiyangwa, ruling party deputy security chief Kenny Karidza, external affairs director Itai Marchi, Zimbabwe’s ambassador-designate to Mozambique Godfrey Dzvairo and

ex-Metropolitan Bank company secretary Tendai Matambanadzo have been accused of spying for foreign agents in South Africa.

As first reported in the Zimbabwe Independent on December 23, the five were arrested — some abducted — and detained by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). They have been appearing in court facing charges under the Official Secrets Act and face up to 25 years in jail if convicted.

Although Dzvairo, Matambanadzo and Marchi initially pleaded guilty, they have been trying to change their pleas. However, magistrate Peter Kumbawa last week dismissed their application for change of plea.

Chiyangwa and Karidza, who have pleaded not guilty, appeared in court last Friday for a remand hearing. They were further remanded in custody.

Karidza will appear in court again on January 24 while Chiyangwa will appear on January 28.

Chiyangwa had judgement reserved last Thursday in his application to the High Court appealing against refusal of bail. His lawyer, Advocate Chris Andersen, told the High Court’s Justice Charles Hungwe that the state was accusing his client of selling state secrets to a South African agent for US$10 000 a month without an iota of evidence.

The case has drawn South Africa into its murky vortex after it was alleged that an intelligence officer working for the South African Secret Service (SASS) — the country’s foreign intelligence arm — had been arrested in connection with the issue.

British and South African media have reported the arrest of a senior South African “spymaster” who was allegedly lured from Livingstone to Victoria Falls by one of his Zimbabwean contacts last month only to realise too late that it was a trap. He has been providing details of his network, press reports say.

While South Africa’s Ministry of Intelligence Services last weekend denied the country’s involvement, saying only that it had seen media reports linking South Africa to the case, sources close to the government this week confirmed the arrest of a high-ranking officer in the SASS.

The sources said they were confident the arrested agent from Pretoria would be released soon. They described his work as maintaining routine contacts and said the case was unlikely to affect relations with Zimbabwe.

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