Thulani Dhlomo, an intelligence operative with close ties to President Jacob Zuma is reportedly tipped to become South Africa’s next ambassador to Japan.
Dhlomo, 45, was suspended from the State Security Agency in 2016 over an alleged transgression apparently related to trips he had taken abroad. He reportedly used several diplomatic passports for his overseas travels, and sometimes bear the name Silence Dlomo.
While at the SSA, he served as the head of special operations. He was also the former head of counter-intelligence at the SSA’s domestic intelligence branch.
Prior to his appointment at the SSA, an investigation found he had interfered in tender procedures by soliciting an R1-million bribe while he was head of security at the KwaZulu-Natal department of social development.
The investigation was ordered by then social development MEC Meshack Radebe. Dhlomo later resigned.
His subsequent appointment in 2012 sparked outrage and criticism since he was still under investigation at the time.
But a subsequent probe by the inspector general of intelligence found nothing wrong with Dhlomo’s appointment.
In 2012, Thulani Dhlomo, who was SSA’s head of the SSA’s Special Operations Unit (SOU) reportedly ruffled feathers at the SSA by telling his colleagues that he ‘only reports to Zuma’ – raising yet another eyebrow about his relationship with President Zuma.
It emerged in 2016 that Dhlomo had apparently abused his position as SOU head by ordering covert operations that appeared to have personally benefited Zuma.
According to the travel records, Thulani Dhlomo crossed the country’s at least ten times between January and February 2017 – which is a further 14 times in 2016, and 12 times in 2015.
Now, President Jacob has nominated the same to become South Africa’s ambassador to Japan, despite his dubious past.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Department of International Relation and Cooperation (Dirco) Clayson Monyela has refrained from denying and confirming the alleged nomination.
“There is no diplomatic tradition in any country of discussing names nor reasons associated with nominees for diplomatic postings. Nominees are only considered representatives of their country following the completion of diplomatic training, securing security clearances and after presenting credentials to the receiving country,” Monyela said.
Multiple sources have it that Dhlomo will soon start his diplomatic training at Dirco.
He would be succeeding Beryl Sisulu, who was SA’s ambassador to Japan for less than a year. Sisulu is expected to move to Australia, where she will become the South African high commissioner.
Beryl Sisulu is Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s adopted sister. If reports available are anything to go by, Sisulu is tipped to replace former Transport Minister and former high commissioner to Australia S’bu Ndebele.
S’bu Ndebele was arrested in 2015 for alleged corrupt acts when he was serving as a minister. He allegedly received a bribe of R10 million. The former Transport Minister resigned in October 2016.
The former diplomat also faces over 10 other charges. He allegedly received the R10-million from companies linked to Tasima (a company managing the electronic National Traffic Information System) through his Investec Bank account in 2010.
Meanwhile, unfounded reports making the rounds allege that the charges against the former minister might be dropped after he complained to President Zuma about political interference with the charges against him.