Johannesburg - The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Monday expressed shock at an apparent plot to kill its general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.
“Such reports of a death threat must always be taken seriously,” Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said in a statement.
Zwelinzima Vavi addresses delegates during the 11th Cosatu national congress at Gallagher Estate in Midrand. Picture: Itumeleng Englis. Credit: INLSA
“They cause fear and worry for comrade Vavi and his family, especially as this is not the first such threat.”
Craven said intelligence boss Major General Chris Ngcobo summoned Vavi to an urgent meeting on September 28 where he gave him details of the plot.
Iranian intelligence officials had apparently bribed one of Vavi's bodyguards to disclose his travel arrangements and a member of an NGO which worked closely with Cosatu would use the information to try and find an opportunity to poison Vavi.
This was meant to cause chaos ahead of the African National Congress' elective conference in Mangaung.
Vavi told the Sunday Times: “This sounded far-fetched, as I can see no benefits to Iran from a crisis that may emerge in the country if I was to be permanently removed.”
According to the newspaper, Vavi said he had to think hard before deciding to go public about Ngcobo's warning.
“I have a family and kids who obviously will go into a panic,” he was quoted as saying.
“What if indeed there is a threat from whatever source? (But) the public have to know. Maybe that will help.”
Vavi also revealed that he had received a death threat in June 2010.
He reported the threat to Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and former national police commissioner Bheki Cele, according to the Sunday Times.
The letter was sent to a police laboratory to determine its origin.
However, Vavi had not received any feedback since then.
Craven said the threat was worrying.
Ngcobo was meant to report back in two weeks, but nothing more had been heard.
“Their silence means that we still do not know whether the threat was ever real or whether the warning was a politically motivated attempt by elements within the state apparatus to intimidate comrade Vavi,” he said.
“The federation demands that the officers reveal all the information they have, including identifying the bodyguard and the NGO who are alleged to be involved.” - Sapa