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South Africa: Probe under way into spying on Mandela by Western media news agencies


CAPE TOWN, (Xinhua): A probe was still under way into the spying on former South African President Nelson Mandela by two Western news agencies, authorities said on Friday.

A completed docket against British news agency Reuters and US Associated Press (AP) have been handed over to prosecutors, Eastern Cape police said.

"I spoke to one of the investigators and he said the docket was completed and was handed in. We do not have it anymore," Lieutenant-Colonel Mzukisi Fatyela said.

He said the docket had been submitted to the director of public prosecutions in Mthatha, the Eastern Cape.

But the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) denied receiving the docket, indicating there was confusion over the issue, the South African Press Association (SAPA) said. NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said the Mthatha director of public prosecutions had not yet received the docket.

"We made an inquiry with the director, and no such docket has been handed in," he said.

Meanwhile, national police confirmed that the probe was still under way.

National police spokesperson Colonel Vishnu Naidoo also denied that the investigation was complete.

"I don't know where this information is coming from, but as far as I know the investigation is still on-going," he said.

Reuters and AP reportedly had installed at least three closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras spying on Mandela's house in Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

Chieftainess Nokwanele Balizulu, who lives opposite Mandela's house, confirmed to the British newspaper Times in December that she gave Reuters and AP news agencies permission to install cameras.

In response to the report, AP spokesperson Paul Colford said: "They are not surveillance cameras. Along with other media, the AP has preparedness around Mr Mandela's eventual passing. The AP cameras were not switched on and would only be used in the event of a major news story involving the former president."

"We had similar preparedness outside the Vatican ahead of Pope John Paul II's passing," Colford added.

A police task team was sent to investigate the security breach following the report.

Mandela moved from Johannesburg to Qunu, where he was born, a few days before his 93rd birthday on July 18.

According to South African National Key Points Act, national key points like the places where VIPs live are areas considered sensitive to the country's national security.

Reuters and AP are facing criminal charges for allegedly contravening the act.

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