PARLIAMENT SWEPT FOR BOMBS, BUGS
SAPA 12 Oct. 2000
Cape Town -- Parliament was on Thursday swept for bombs and bugs by the
police in what the head of the national protection service in the Western
Cape said was a routine exercise.
Senior Superintendent Wally Rhoode told Sapa the exercise had nothing to do
with concerns expressed by African National Congress MPs that its caucus
meetings may have been bugged.
This follows media reports of what President Thabo Mbeki told the ANC
parliamentary caucus two weeks ago.
It was reported that Mbeki told MPs that Western interests were seeking to
discredit him and the country, and that the United States' Central
Intelligence Agency was part of a conspiracy to promote the view that HIV
Both the Sunday Times and the Mail and Guardian reported extensively on
what Mbeki had apparently told MPs, leading to speculation in some ANC
quarters that the meeting may have been bugged.
A number of MPs canvassed by Sapa during the week discounted that the
information was acquired by way of routine leaks by ANC MPs, and insisted
their caucus had somehow been bugged.
Some believed a tape recorder had been smuggled into the caucus room -the
Old Assembly chamber in Parliament--or that the internal broadcast system
had somehow been accessed.
On at least one previous occasion the system was inadvertently left
switched on, allowing parliamentary staff, opposition parties and reporters
An incredulous parliamentary press gallery reporter was overheard telling
an MP, after being told of the bugging claim: "Journalists don't have the
technological know-how to do that!"
On Thursday, ahead of the ANC's caucus meeting, a policeman at Parliament
was asking reporters for a blank tape to test whether the system could be
Rhoode said he had given instructions on Thursday "that everything should
be checked for bugs and bombs".
He had received no request from the ANC or Parliament's presiding officers
to check for bugging.
"It is a standard operational procedure. We regularly check for bombs, and,
on a random basis, bugs."
Rhoode said his instructions had not been prompted by media reports quoting
Mbeki, or because these may have caused embarrassment to the president.