What The #SpyCables Say About South Africa’s Tech Industry

Avatar
Written by Dana Sanchez

News agency Al Jazeera said last night it has received leaked communications between South Africa’s State Security Agency and its counterparts in the U.S., the U.K., Israel and Iran that are being dubbed the #SpyCables.

Just a tiny bit of information from the cables has been made public, but more details are expected that shed light on South Africa’s involvement in warfare and technology, according to a report by htxt.africa.

On Monday AlJazeera began publishing stories based on the leaked documents after deleting names of spies and other sensitive information which it deemed could cause harm to individuals, according to IndependentOnline.

The leaked cables reveal details that were kept hidden from the public since 2010, AlJazeera reports in a video.

As it turns out, South Africa’s transparency regarding the sales of weapons of war is virtually unprecedented, htxt.africa reports.

In March 2014 the National Conventional Arms Control Committee which oversees the sale and trading of weapons, took a huge leap forward in terms of transparency when it released a highly detailed report of export transactions, according to htxt.africa. The report detailed exactly what South Africa sold to whom, for how much, how many, and how they were transported. It’s pretty much unprecedented as a list of who sold what to whom around the world, htxt.afrcica reported.

The Spy Cables released by Al Jazeera suggests that Iran, one of the world’s most feared countries in terms of perceived nuclear power, came to South Africa looking for help.

An Iranian delegation secretly met with then-president Thabo Mbeki in 2005. They wanted surveillance software and tools for online hacking; satellite interception technology and missile guidance technology. How Mbeki responded wasn’t part of the report, said htxt.africa.

Iran also wanted technology to decipher emails, passive GSM monitoring and reconnaissance drones. And it wanted to know if South Africa had the technology or capability to deal with electronic warfare.

South African companies that met with Iran included VasTech and Saab Grintek, according to the leaked cables, htxt.africa reports. VasTech sells equipment to permanently record the phone calls of entire countries – often in total secrecy. Saab Grintek sells high tech electronic warfare systems and products for the global defense market and allegedly had dealings with the Gaddafi regime in Libya.

Denel Dynamics is South Africa’s largest producer of military equipment and is owned by the South African government. It has supplied defense technology to Egypt, Argentina, Germany, the U.K. and Nigeria. There are actually very few countries South Africa hasn’t done business with, according to htxt.africa.