Spy games: SA edition

2014-08-17 15:00

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She had her own legal practice, her boyfriend was an influential civil servant and her clients were extravagant, loaded and in trouble.

But beneath Belinda Walter’s glitzy life lurked the Mata Hari of the cloak-and-dagger world of spying; a women who allegedly used her sexual prowess to infiltrate, watch, record and discredit her targets.

This is the picture that emerged this week of Walter as City Press obtained more evidence and information about her exploits as an “economic intelligence” agent of the Special Operations Unit (SOU) of the State Security Agency (SSA).

City Press reported last week that Walter – SSA agent number 5332 – was among the rogue agents who plotted to discredit top state officials, obstruct investigations into organised crime and smuggle contraband cigarettes.

State Security Minister David Mahlobo said this week he had asked Inspector-General of Intelligence Faith Radebe to conduct an inquiry into the SSA’s rogue spy ring.

Walter said City Press’ reporting on her relationship with the state and her love affair with SA Revenue Service (Sars) executive Johan van Loggenberg were “ridiculous, vulgar and defamatory”.

She denied being a member of the rogue unit – despite numerous text messages showing her plotting with SSA agents to discredit Van Loggenberg, and her complicity in a project to trade in contraband cigarettes.

She admitted in a complaint against Van Loggenberg to Sars that she was an SSA agent and “wore a recording device for the state” when she met him in September. This week, Walter again refused to say who she spied for if it wasn’t the SSA.

She also lashed out at Van Loggenberg, Sars’ group executive of investigations, labelling him as mentally ill, impotent, a philandering liar and a physically abusive, excessive drinker.

Van Loggenberg declined to comment, but said he was preparing to testify before the inspector-general. He has asked Sars acting commissioner Ivan Pillay for special leave to deal with the accusations against him.

He has hundreds of text messages, emails and other documents detailing his relationship with Walter, which he believes will show she infiltrated him, for the SSA, to discredit him.

During their seven-month affair, Van Loggenberg discovered not just that Walter was a spy, but that she represented some of the alleged tobacco smugglers Sars was investigating for fraud, money laundering and tax evasion.

But Walter claims she has “over 600 pages of WhatsApp messages and numerous other exchanges, communications and notes” to prove Van Loggenberg’s dirty campaign against her. She said she also gave her devices to the Hawks “for independent and credible securing of all data” and she laid a criminal complaint against him.

Hawks spokesperson Captain Paul Ramaloko said the unit were “looking into” Walter’s allegations.

Walter appeared before a Sars panel last month but refused to depose an affidavit and did not submit any evidence against Van Loggenberg. Sars said last week Walter’s lawyer told them she was withdrawing the complaint.

But this week, Walter said she had not withdrawn it and planned to sue the revenue collector, Van Loggenberg and City Press for defamation. Walter also alluded to the fact that Van Loggenberg is an apartheid spy and that he was not using his real surname, Van Loggerenberg.

In her complaint to Sars, Walter said that after meeting Van Loggenberg, during which time she wore a recording device, she “playfully suggested a date” which he accepted. She then reported “the interaction” to an alleged tobacco smuggler, under investigation by Sars for tax evasion, “as I was particularly close to him”.

Two independent sources told City Press this week that Walter had an affair with the alleged smuggler, whose name is known to City Press, which she infiltrated for the SSA.

Two of Walter’s former clients lambasted her for unethical behaviour. One wanted to remain anonymous while the other was prepared to go on the record.

Yusuf Kajee – a business partner of President Jacob Zuma’s eldest son Edward and a director of Amalgamated Tobacco Manufacturing (ATM) – said: “Belinda has taken what God

Almighty has given woman as a virtue and used it to exploit men for personal gain.”

Kajee, who is also at odds with Van Loggenberg over R7?million in unpaid taxes, which he disputes, said Walter represented him and other smaller cigarette manufacturers at the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita). Walter was Fita’s chairperson and the organisation was established to bargain a more equitable market for smaller manufacturers.

But Walter admits in her Sars complaint that Fita was set up “in conjunction with a certain state department”, which her text messages show was the SSA.

These messages emerged after Walter gave Van Loggenberg three old cellphones and asked him to help her retrieve messages she wanted to keep. Van Loggenberg’s friend extracted them and put them on a flash drive.

But after she complained to Sars about him, Van Loggenberg asked his friend for a copy of the messages.

The messages reveal Walter’s alleged affairs with two SSA handlers and a number of men she was spying on. Among the messages were naked selfies she had sent them.

City Press understands Van Loggenberg plans to submit the messages to the inspector-general of intelligence.

Walter allegedly had affairs with others including clients and directors of independent tobacco companies she was both representing and spying on.

Kajee said Walter spoke openly about her relationship with another “top tobacco man”, whose name is known to City Press, who was prepared to leave his wife for her.

Kajee and another independent source close to the tobacco industry said Walter had affairs with at least two executives at a large tobacco manufacturer.

“She explained in detail about how she intends infiltrating Van Loggenberg,” said Kajee. “She showed us her correspondence with Johan on WhatsApp. I believe he fell in love with her not realising she had ulterior motives.

“She said they wanted Van Loggenberg’s hands tainted and him removed from Sars,” said Kajee.

When she was an SSA agent, Walter acted as attorney for smaller tobacco companies while on the payroll of tobacco giant British American Tobacco, from which she received R450?000 in cash in London last year. It is unclear for whom she spied and what information she sold to whom.

What Belinda Walter says?...

Yesterday, Belinda Walter reiterated her stance that our reporting on her last week was full of “repulsive, untrue and blatant fabrications”, and that she is suing City Press for defamation.

She said she welcomed the investigation by the inspector-general of intelligence and that she would not be “broken” by her former boyfriend, Johan van Loggenberg.

Walter said she did not want to discuss personal aspects of her relationship with Van Loggenberg or any other person.

She said the number of lovers she had or had not had was irrelevant to her complaint.

She said Van Loggenberg had a history of fabricating evidence and that he had illegally intercepted her communication for as long as three years.

She added there was “an illegal covert unit” within the SA Revenue Service (Sars) that was conducting unlawful operations and activities.

She claimed members of the unit tapped phones and intercepted communications without authority.

Walter said she had provided information about the unit to the Hawks.

She made it clear she had not withdrawn the complaint at Sars against Van Loggenberg, and insisted she was not part of the State Security Agency’s rogue Special Operations Unit.

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