Project Wave: How the Zuma SSA penetrated the media

Key extracts from evidence of Sydney Mufamadi and "Ms K" to the Zondo Commission


Extract from the report of the High-Level Review Panel Report on the State Security Agency, December 2018:

It is clear to the Panel that the SSA's SO unit, especially under Dlomo's watch, was a law unto itself and directly served the political interests of the Executive. It also undertook intelligence operations which were clearly unconstitutional and illegal. Information made available to the Panel indicated that these operations included, inter alia:


- Project Wave: This involved infiltrating and influencing the media at home and abroad in order, apparently, to counter bad publicity for the country, the then president and the SSA. The project was launched in the 2015/16 financial year with a budget of R24 million. One of the largest amounts issued for this project was one of R20 million given to the media agency, Africa News Agency (ANA), apparently for 'services rendered' for eight months.


Extract from the transcript of Sydney Mufamadi’s evidence to the State Capture Commission, 25 January 2021

ADV PRETORIUS SC: 7.12 Project Wave, would you tell the Chair what that project involved, as far as you learnt and was told?


ADV PRETORIUS SC: Paragraph 7.12 Project Wave, would you tell the Chair please what that project involved as far as you became aware?

DR MUFAMADI: Yes, we were told that this project involved infiltrating and influencing the media at home and abroad in order, apparently to counter bad publicity for the country and the, then President and the SSA, in other words in the opinion of SSA there was bad publicity in the country – within the country and beyond, about the country, about the President and about the SSA and – which then necessitated using filtration and influencing of the media.

So, they say the project was launched in the 2015/2016 financial year with a budget of R24million and they say one of the largest amounts issued for this project was R20million given to a media agency. Apparently, therefore, for services rendered for eight months.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Yes, it was originally intended that the name of the agency would be redacted, but you’ve had discussions with the SSA in that regard and it’s not necessary to redact the name, what is the name of the Agency?

DR MUFAMADI: The Agency we were told, is Africa News Agency.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Then paragraph – well, and we know, don’t we, that there is already a legitimate arm of Government that deals with publicity in relation to Government and Government activities, correct?



Extract from the evidence of “Ms. K” to the State Capture Commission, 28 January 2021

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Alright. Let’s move on then to Project Wave.

MS K: Yes sir.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Paragraph 6.56 reads: “As noted earlier Project Wave was established at the same time as Project Construcao and Project Mayibuye in January 2015 and was based on the same template written by Frank and approved by the same individuals.”

We know that and we have dealt with that.

MS K: Yes.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Paragraph 6.57 reads: “The stated aim of Project Wave was to penetrate an established operational ground with an identified continental, regional and global territories utilising deep cover members with an intended commencement date of 1 March 2015. However Frank explained in his interview with our investigation team that this initial plan bore no resemblance to the activities later carried out under Project Wave which related to the media.”

Are you able to comment on that?

MS K: Yes, we conducted the interview and that is what he indicated so I can confirm that.

CHAIRPERSON: ...[Indistinct – microphone faulty] let’s talk about the way forward ...[indistinct] sit longer ...[indistinct]

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Chair we have three witnesses potentially to come for this week.


ADV PRETORIUS SC: But it appears that there is some more work to be done whether it is by way of affidavit or otherwise arising out of questions and answers today at least.


ADV PRETORIUS SC: The issues related to tomorrow’s evidence that we had planned a particular witness, 33’s were sent out and on the face of it were not received and that was an issue I raised this morning for clarification, I personally have not yet received that clarification but if that witness was to be called tomorrow it would require his affidavit or his evidence to be truncated, it is not really desirable. The other two witnesses would require applications to be placed before you for protected identity evidence, which we would submit would be dealt with in accordance with the way they have been dealt with before but they haven’t yet been done.

We are at page 45 of 77 pages, although it will go quicker tomorrow I would respectfully suggest that we adjourn and conclude the evidence of this witness tomorrow, but if you wish we can continue and arrange for a witness to come tomorrow on the reduced basis.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, well obviously we want to use as much time as possible and if it means going beyond four o’clock I am happy to do that, but there is no point in doing that if tomorrow is unlikely and would not end up being used fully because certain issues have to be sorted out [indistinct – mic off] so if it looks like there is no ...[indistinct] sitting longer today ...[indistinct]

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Yes Chair and I think we are at the stage of the day, I think the stage of the week that I don’t want to bite the head off any of my colleagues.

CHAIRPERSON: Subject to certain matters there may be a possibility from my side to sit for some hours on Saturdays if we need to use Saturdays and going forward I am of the view that there may be quite a few Saturdays that we might use because we need to use as much time as possible, but obviously sometimes ...[indistinct] for using a Saturday needs a bit more time, but I am mentioning that so that you can take that into account.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Thank you Chair, that may assist us at – after a certain interval to wrap up on expeditious basis whatever evidence we have in this stream.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes, okay we will then adjourn now because it looks like tomorrow the witness will continue.

...[Indistinct – mic off]. Okay we are going to adjourn for the day and we will start normal time tomorrow.


CHAIRPERSON: We adjourn.



Extract from the evidence of “Ms. K” to the State Capture Commission, 29 January 2021

EXAMINATION BY ADV PRETORIUS SC (CONTINUES): Ms K, when we adjourned yesterday, we were dealing with the Project Wave and we were at paragraph 6.5.7 of your statement.

MS K: Yes.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: You confirmed your knowledge of the second – the contents of the second sentence in paragraph 6.5.7 to the effect that Frank had explained in his interview with the Investigation Team that the initial plan, Project Wave, holds not resembles to the activities later carried out under Project Wave which related to the media. Do you confirm that?

MS K: Yes. Yes, I do.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Then the next sentence reads: “While the spending of funds started soon after the establishment of the project, it was only a year later that a group of co-workers were recruited and trained.

Frank contents that this recruitment was ad-hoc and admitted that he included his daughter in response to Ambassador Mahlobo’s invitation to “bring people”.”

Are you able to confirm that information as having been given to the investigation?

MS K: Yes, I am able to confirm that.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: It appears ...[intervenes]

CHAIRPERSON: I am sorry Mr Pretorius. Just so that people who are listening will understand. Would it be accurate if we say whenever in relation to Ms K’s evidence and Mr Y’s affidavit, reference is made to a name without surname. Everyone must understand that is a secret name.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Yes. It has been our practise thus far Chair to state explicitly when a name is given and I will continue this practise. I did not in this case but we did yesterday.

CHAIRPERSON: Yes. Okay. When it comes up for the first time, you mean that.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Yes, but I will do it anytime. No problem Chair.

CHAIRPERSON: Okay, that is fine. Okay alright.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Ms K in relation to the second sentence in that paragraph. Does that mean – and I am just asking you to clarify what is said there – that the documents which would have established the project and the motivation for the release of funds would not accurately would have reflected what was ultimately done under the rubric of Project Wave?

MS K: Could you please repeat the question sir?

ADV PRETORIUS SC: The initial plan referred to in the second sentence.

MS K: Yes, sir.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: You said here to have borne no resembles to the activities later carried out under Project Wave which related to the media. In other words, the original plan which would have been included in documentation motivating the establishment of the project and motivating the release of funds for the project bore no resembles to what was actually conducted under the rubric of the project. Is that what that sentence means?

MS K: Yes. Yes, that is what it means.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Thank you. Paragraph 6.5.8 reads: “A progress report dated 26 November 2016 provides further insight into other operational activities of Project Wave.”

That progress report is any documentation but there is a quote here from that document: “Under achievements: It is reported that Project Wave has been able to confirm many of the allegations levelled against the involved of foreign intelligence agencies in the planned destabilization of the democratic rule in South Africa.”

We have heard that evidence from another source but that will be dealt with later Chair in evidence before you from the former President. But it has also been confirmed and I am continuing the quote: “Through the said investigation, the involvement of senior cabinet members and various senior leaders in the ruling African National Congress who are colluding in a conspiracy to effect regime change in South Africa.”

Now it is very clear what that says. Is that contained in the report received by the Investigation Team?

MS K: This is not a report that was received by the Investigation Team. The report was among documents that was found by the Investigation Team.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: It is a ...[intervenes]

MS K: So I just need to...[intervenes]

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Yes, perhaps received – a report in the possession of the Investigation Team.

MS K: Yes.


MS K: That sounds better.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Was that found in the safe that you spoke of earlier?

MS K: Yes. Yes, Chair.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Right. Now the implication, of course, of that statement, and correct me if I am wrong, is the intelligence agencies of the SASS, was dealing with senior cabinet members and various senior leaders in the ruling African National Congress on the basis that they were colluding and in a conspiracy to effect regime change in South Africa.

Does that imply that the object of the project, at least there, would have been to protect the existing regime against change?

MS K: I confirm that. Yes, I could – one could actually draw that conclusion.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Yes, I think it is fairly obvious but thank you for that. Under challenges it is reported inter alia that – and again I quote: “One area of interests (media house) has proved to be one of the most difficult to penetrate for two reasons.

Either the renumeration demands were higher than what the operatives could offer or the targeted media house was equal on a security alert.

Hence immune to approach or to be recruited.”

Again to clarify. Is that in the report that was discovered by the Investigation Team?

MS K: I cannot really recall but it is referred to here. So is it okay if I just take some time to open that annexure?

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Yes, of course.

MS K: Okay.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: It is Annexure W9 and it is at page 656.


MS K: Yes.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Of annexure - of Bundle SSA-1.

MS K: [No audible reply]

ADV PRETORIUS SC: And if you would go to page 658 after looking at the cover page, you will see in paragraph 4.2.

MS K: Yes.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Sub-paragraph A.

MS K: Yes, I found it.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Have you found it?

MS K: Yes, I have.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: And in sub-paragraph B what is quoted in the statement of Mr Y appears in the report, the written report at paragraph 4.2(a) and (b). Do you see that?

MS K: Yes, I see that. I can confirm that that is what is reflected in the report.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Yes. One of the observations one can make from that extract from the report is that possible sources within the media were in some cases at least too expensive for the operatives that were recruited. And the other is that media houses or certain media houses refused to cooperative. Is that how you understand those allegations or those statements?

MS K: Yes, that is what I – my interpretation is as well.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Right. Paragraph 6.5.9 reads: “R24 million was allocated to Project Wave in the 2015/2016 Financial Year and the same amount again in the 2016/2017 Financial Year.

One of the largest payments under Project Wave was for the amount of R24 million in respect of an invoice raised by Apricot purportedly for services rendered.”

That has been rendered unnecessary by the earlier evidence. Consider the evidence of the acting Director General who determined that that name could be declassified.

And we know that it is the African News Agency and they have already issued a public statement in regard to that which is an interesting public statement which will be referred to later in evidence Chair.

So that evidence has been responded by the African News Agency. Are you aware of that Ms K.

MS K: Yes, I am aware Chair.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Alright. And those records are also contained in the SSA bundle. They include two invoices for R 10 million, each raised by Apricot or African News Agencies and proof of payment via EFT on 25 January 2017.

MS K: Yes.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Are you able to confirm the invoices and the payment as having coming to the ...[intervenes]

MS K: Yes, I can – I can confirm. I do not know if I am allowed to point out some aspects of the invoice or I should just reserve that for my own ...[intervenes] [Parties intervening each other – unclear]

ADV PRETORIUS SC: ...look at the invoice because they referred to here and annexed. So if you have any comment to make on the invoice which is part of Mr Y’s statement as an annexure, you are free to comment on that.

MS K: Okay. My comment would be that there are two separate invoices of R10 million each. And they are dated March 2016 and during 2016, respectively but the invoices were actually for the attention of Mr Thulani Dlomo but the invoices are actually only paid in January 2017. So what I know Chair is the signature. I am not know if I am supposed to mention whose signature it is?

ADV PRETORIUS SC: If it is the signature of ...[intervenes]

MS K: It says authorised payment.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Yes, if it is a signature of an operative, please do not mention it. If it is a signature of an official, you may mention it because it is before the Chair.

MS K: No, it is not an operative. It is a signature of Mr Arthur Fraser.


MS K: So on the invoices. It says give authorised payment dated 19/01/2017 and that was then accompanied by a TA that is taken off in parcels AMA which is also approved by Mr Fraser. It is on page 624.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: 624. Yes. The documentation you are referring to is at page 621 and following.

MS K: Yes.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Yes. That evidence has largely been given but thank you for confirming those details.

MS K: Pleasure.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Paragraph... I am sorry if there is anything you wish to add?

MS K: Nothing Chair.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Okay. Paragraph 6.6.0 reads: “Based on the temporary advances, TA has located during our investigations, the total of R48 million was paid under Project Wave which includes this R20 million payment to Africa or African News Agency.

It should be noted that numerous payments and documents are missing from the financial records available.”

Are you aware of that last statement that you were not able to obtain full documentation and the full financial records of Project Wave?

MS K: I would partially agree with that statement but there is further information that was attached to some of these TA’s which actually gave a list of the individuals employed by AMA that were paid by us. So that is has been submitted I think to the Commission.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Alright. That, I am not sure whether in respect of that information it has been declassified for our purposes.

MS K: Ja.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: And we would not have issued notices, at least to my knowledge. So we cannot go there for the moment but we may put that information in your supplementary statement if we may.

MS K: We do not necessarily have to but I think it is a point that needed to be made that it does show where the money ended up, you know, paid rendered renumeration because when you were reading the extract on page – on paragraph 6.5.8 where we said operatives could offer – that last part where you said: “...the renumeration demands were higher than what the operatives could offer or the targeted media house was equal on a security alert.

Hence the media approach ought to be recruited.”

For me, if we ended up having a list of people that are there in terms of their salaries and their names, it would mean then that I would infer that means we were trying to make sure it is affordable or we can match whatever the demands were.

That is just my conclusion. It is not necessarily facts.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Alright. I understand what you are saying to be that even though the demands made by personnel and the media might have been high, you know that attempts were made, successfully in some cases to meet those demands. Is that what you are saying?

MS K: Yes.


MS K: Yes.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: It is fair to point to one document that does not mention any names or implicate any individual either generically or individually but there is evidence in the bundle that individuals within the media received money as part of Project Wave.

MS K: Yes.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: That evidence in its detail I would prefer to consider and place before the Chair at a later stage once we considered its import and what we need to do to follow the rules. If that is in order Chair? We have a number of positions that received monies in the media but we just have to consider whether giving that money would identify the person. And if it identifies the person, we need to issue notices.

CHAIRPERSON: Ja, that is alright.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Thank you for that input Ms K. It seems that despite the volume of evidence given by you and other witnesses, the Commission at least and it appears that the Investigation Team at least has not yet established the full scope and detail of the CDSO Project in the period under review. Would that be a fair comment?

MS K: Yes, I agree that would be a fair comment.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: So for example. The investigators have information of at least nine other projects. And I say at least nine other projects, Project Speed, Project Beetle, Project Amex, Project Armani, Project Fruit, Project Denaido(?), Project Iso Toxil(?), Project Worcester(?), Project Skyline. [00:21:15] Of which we have no information at present. Do you know of the existence of other projects in respect of which we do not have information?

MS K: That is a list of projects that we ourselves had been trying to actually confirm whether their existence and many documentation that proves that those projects existed and what the project establishment documents would be, saying outlining, you know, the objectives of those projects.

We have not through the information management systems of SSA and could not trace those. The only place where these projects appear is in one of the implicated individuals TA’s and even in the cash journal, that is all.

ADV PRETORIUS SC: Alright. So there appears to be monies paid out, including monies in the form of cash, in respect of these projects but you have no further information? Is that what I understand the position to be?

MS K: Yes, but I have to point out that those projects seem or can only be linked to the year from 2017 onwards. So it is not projects where – we did not see any – find any TA’s, yes.

In as far as I remember that pertaining to these projects predating the period of CDSO’s existence.


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