State Security Agency
Agency overview
JurisdictionGovernment of South Africa
HeadquartersMusanda Complex, Joe Nhlanhla Street, Pretoria, Gauteng
25°51′02″S 28°18′24″E / 25.85056°S 28.30667°E / -25.85056; 28.30667
Annual budgetR4,308.3 million (2015)
Ministers responsible
Agency executive
Key documents
  • Intelligence Services Act, 2002
  • Presidential Proclamation No R 59 of 2009

The State Security Agency (SSA) is the department of the South African government with overall responsibility for civilian intelligence operations. It was created in October 2009 to incorporate the formerly separate National Intelligence Agency, South African Secret Service, South African National Academy of Intelligence, National Communications Centre, and COMSEC.[1][2]

This restructuring and integration of the disparate agencies was ongoing as of 2011.[3]

Political responsibility for the agency lies with the Minister in the Presidency; as of 2023 this is Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.[4] The agency is headed by an acting director-general; as of 2022 this is Thembisile Majola. In the 2010/11 national budget, the secret services received a total transfer of 3,052.2 million rand.[5] For the 2015/16 national budget, the secret services received a total transfer of 4,308.3 million rand.[6]

The Spy Cables are a set of leaked communications published by Al Jazeera and The Guardian, derived from communications between the State Security Agency and other global intelligence agencies.[7]


The SSA’s focus on state security is significant and is best understood in the context of the evolution of South African politics since 1961.[8] During the B. J. Vorster regime, state security was seen to be paramount by virtue of the fact that the state was the referent object simply because it represented an ethnic minority and was thus contested.[9] The referent object is that which needs to be secured. This gave rise to the Bureau of State Security (BOSS), which came to an end after the Info Scandal, which involved the use of secret funds and covert capabilities to manipulate public opinion via the media, was revealed.[10][11][12] Emerging from this was the P. W. Botha regime, which saw the rise of the State Security Council (SSC) as the premier decision-making organ.[13][14] This organisation was hawkish and favoured the military,[15] and was formed as a direct result of the emergence of paramilitary police units.[16]

While this process was unfolding, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) was created but remained in the shadow under the leadership of Dr Niel Barnard.[17] Central to the creation of the NIS was the burning question about what the referent object is and how it should be secured.[18] Within the NIS, the view was that the only way to secure the state was to create a legitimate government representative of the majority of its citizens. This discourse was known as "National Security" and the focus of security was the nation. The idea being that if the nation is secured, then a legitimate government would emerge so state security would become irrelevant as a concept.

When the F. W. de Klerk regime took over, it inherited a security force in crisis arising from the actions of the paramilitary police.[19] This created space for the National Security discourse to take its rightful place in underpinning the transition to democracy by creating the climate for negotiations to end the Armed Struggle. This saw the concept of "national security" dominate the intelligence community, at least during the transition to democracy and the decade thereafter. It was only when the state started to perceive that it was under threat, that the old thinking about "state security" again emerged.[20] This drove the creation of the State Security Agency (with the security of the state as its primary objective) out of the remnants of what had evolved from the NIS (with the security of the nation as its primary objective).[21]

Functions and mandate

The SSA describes its mandate as to:

provide the government with intelligence on domestic and foreign threats or potential threats to national stability, the constitutional order, and the safety and well being of our people.

— State Security Agency


Some of the areas the SSA focuses on are:


The following pieces of legislation govern and manage the role of the State Security Agency:[23]: 329 


The following people have held the position of Director-General since the restructure of the South African intelligence services in 2009:

Organisational structure

The following branches make up the State Security Agency:

Domestic branch

Previously known as the National Intelligence Agency, its mandate is gather and analyse intelligence concerning potential or existing threats to South Africa's security including economic, social, political and environmental issues.[32]: 482  The intelligence is shared with President and National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee (NICOC) and when required, with government departments and the South African Police.[32]: 482  The branch is also responsible for counter-intelligence.[32]: 482 

Main article: National Intelligence Agency (South Africa)

Foreign branch

Previously known as the South African Secret Service, the foreign branches mandate is to collect and analyse foreign intelligence and potential or existing foreign threats to South Africa's security. The intelligence is shared with National Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee.

Main article: South African Secret Service

National Communications branch

National Communications Centre (NCC)
The branch is responsible for integrating and co-ordinating all South African government signals and communications interception through the Signals Intelligence Evaluation Centre and the Office of Interception Centre.[33]: 406 

Main article: National Communications Centre

COMSEC (South Africa) (Electronic Communications Security (Pty) Ltd)
Formed initially in 2002 as a private company called Civilian Intelligence Community, it became a government department in 2009 with a role to ensure that the government and civil service departments electronic communications are protected and secured.[32]: 483 

Main article: COMSEC (South Africa)

Office for Interception Centre (OIC)
The office centralises the lead role for interception of communications for South African security and law-enforcement services.[33]: 405  The office has been regulated since 2005 by the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communications-Related Information Act, 2002 (Act 70 of 2002).[33]: 405  Oversight rests with the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI) and the Inspector-General.[33]: 405 

South African National Academy of Intelligence (SANAI)

The National Academy of Intelligence is based in Mafikeng and was established in February 2003 and comprises an academic faculty, an intelligence research institute and development support component.[33]: 405 

Main article: South African National Academy of Intelligence

Intelligence Services Council on Conditions of Employment (ISC)

The council consists of at least three people one of whom is the chairperson and are appointed by the Minister of Intelligence.[34] The council make recommendations to the minister on conditions of service and other human resources activities such as salaries, fringe benefits and performance measures for staff in the agency.[34]


  1. ^ "Intelligence body restructured". SAPA. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  2. ^ "About SSA". Archived from the original on 27 December 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  3. ^ "State Security Agency restructuring going well – Cwele". SAPA. 2 June 2011. Archived from the original on 15 September 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  4. ^ "Ramaphosa's Cabinet reshuffle a 'gratuitous bloating' – Opposition not impressed by Ramaphosa's choices". Retrieved 2023-08-07.
  5. ^ "Vote 9: National Treasury" (PDF). Estimates of National Expenditure 2010. Pretoria: National Treasury. 17 February 2010. p. 157. ISBN 978-0-621-39079-7. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  6. ^ "Estimates of National Expenditure 2015" (PDF). National Treasury. 2015. p. 806. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  7. ^ Seumas Milne; Ewen MacAskill; Clayton Swisher (23 February 2015). "Leaked cables show Netanyahu's Iran bomb claim contradicted by Mossad". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  8. ^ Africa, S. & Mlombile, S. 2001. Transforming the Intelligence Services: Some Reflections on the South African Experience. Harvard University Project on Justice in Times of Transition. Available online from
  9. ^ Turton, A.R. 2021. The Genesis and Contribution of Republican Intelligence and Bureau for State Security to South African Security. In Nongqai, Journal of National Security History in Southern Africa, Vol. 12; No. 2. Pp.
  10. ^ Turton, A.R. 2021. The Genesis and Contribution of Department of National Security to the South African Security Discourse and Evolution of Democracy. In Nongqai, Journal of National Security History in Southern Africa, Vol. 12; No. 3. Pp. 24 -29.
  11. ^ McGiven, Arthur. Inside BOSS’s Super Spook HQ
  12. ^ Swanepoel, Petrus Cornelius (2007). Really Inside BOSS: A Tale of South Africa's Late Intelligence Service (and Something about the CIA). Piet Swanepoel. ISBN 978-0-620-38272-4.
  13. ^ Frankel, P.H. 1984. Pretoria’s Praetorians: Civil-Military Relations in South Africa. London: Cambridge University Press.
  14. ^ Geldenhuys, D. 1984. The Diplomacy of Isolation: South African Foreign Policy Making. Johannesburg: Macmillan South Africa.
  15. ^ Geldenhuys, D. 1982. The Destabilization Controversy: An Analysis of a High-Risk Foreign Policy Option for South Africa. In Politikon, Vol. 9. No. 2; 16-31. Reprinted as Geldenhuys, D. 1983. The Destabilization Controversy: An Analysis of a High-Risk Foreign Policy Option for South Africa. In Conflict Studies, No. 148; 11-26. In Gutteridge, W. (Ed.) 1995. South Africa: From Apartheid to National Unity, 1981–1994. Pp 42-57. Aldershot, Hants & Brookfield, V.T.: Dartmouth Publishing.
  16. ^ Stiff, P. 2001. Warfare by Other Means: South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. Alberton: Galago Publishers.
  17. ^ NIS. 1994. National Intelligence Service: 1969–1994. Special Commemorative Book given to all serving officers of the National Intelligence Service. Pretoria: National Intelligence Service.
  18. ^ Turton, A.R. 2021. Understanding the Evolution of the National Intelligence Service and its Contribution to South African Democracy. In Nongqai, Journal of National Security History in Southern Africa, Vol. 12; No. 4. Pp.
  19. ^ "Commentary No. 15". Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  20. ^ Turton, A.R. 2021. South African Secret Service as a Caretaker Structure: The Evolution of the Civilian Intelligence Services Under Democracy and the Lessons Learned. In Nongqai, Journal of National Security History in Southern Africa, Vol. 12; No. 5.
  21. ^ Turton, A.R. 2010. Shaking Hands with Billy. Durban: Just Done Publications.
  22. ^ "State Security Agency – About Us". State Security Agency. 2 April 2017.
  23. ^ "Police, Defence and Intelligence - SA YEARBOOK 2014/15" (PDF). Department of Government Communication and Information System. 2 April 2017.
  24. ^ "Mo appointment angers opposition parties". IOL. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  25. ^ a b "Cwele announces new appointments in intelligence". Mail&Guardian. 2 August 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  26. ^ Helfrich, Kim (26 August 2016). "Top State Security Agency post vacant and still no Intelligence Inspector General". defenceWeb. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  27. ^ Grootes, Stephen (26 September 2016). "Arthur Fraser appointed as State Security's new Director General". EWN. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  28. ^ Bateman, Barry (17 April 2018). "State Security Agency Boss Fraser moved to Correctional Services Dept". EWN. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  29. ^ "Acting director-general of State Security Agency replaced". The Citizen. 2021-03-27. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  30. ^ Hunter, Qaanitah. "Former energy deputy minister Thembisile Majola appointed SSA Director-General". News24. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  31. ^ Khoza, Amanda. "State Security Agency DG Thembisile Majola resigns". TimesLIVE. Retrieved 2024-01-22.
  32. ^ a b c d "Police, Defence and Intelligence - SA YEARBOOK 2012/13" (PDF). Department of Government Communication and Information System. 26 March 2017.
  33. ^ a b c d e "Police, Defence and Intelligence - SA YEARBOOK 2009/10" (PDF). Department of Government Communication and Information System. 24 January 2017.
  34. ^ a b "Intelligence Services Act 65 of 2002" (PDF). State Security Agency. 30 January 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 December 2017. Retrieved 26 March 2017.