Hawks investigating Sars spy allegations

2015-05-19 18:50
(File: Sars)

(File: Sars)

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Johannesburg - The Hawks are investigating accusations of illegal spy activities at the SA Revenue Service (Sars), the crime fighting unit said on Tuesday.

"The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations [the Hawks] would like to confirm that we have received affidavits from two individuals who are implicated in the Sars spying scandal, which was widely reported on [by] weekend newspapers," spokesperson  Hangwani Mulaudzi said in a statement.

"A docket has also been opened and the investigations into the matter are underway. The acting head of the Hawks Major General Mthandazo Ntlemeza has urged the media and all interested parties to allow the directorate to conduct its thorough investigations without any interference."

Mulaudzi said the Hawks would make no further comments on the matter until progress, which might be of public knowledge, was achieved.

Ntlemeza said: "We need time to assess the case and involve other relevant stakeholders to successfully investigate issue at hand. I doing so, we need not divulge sensitive information to the media for fear of jeopardising the case."

The Sunday Times reported that a former Sars agent had confirmed illegally bugging the offices of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and spying on matters related to the corruption case of former police head Jackie Selebi.

In an affidavit handed to the Hawks last week, Helgard Lombard said as far as he could remember, he only monitored and gave information regarding the Selebi case, and ignored other non-related discussions.

Johan de Waal, who was allegedly part of the same Sars rogue unit, also submitted an affidavit detailing the operation that took place in 2007, whereby senior NPA officials, including then-head Vusi Pikoli, were spied on in relation to the Selebi case.

Selebi was jailed in 2010 after being found guilty of corruption. He was later granted medical parole and died in January this year.

According to their affidavits, audiovisual bugging devices were secretly installed in 12 offices and boardrooms’ at the NPA’s Pretoria headquarters.

Charges

Former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay, who is accused of authorising the illegal operation in 2007, faces a string of criminal charges as a result, the Sunday Times stated.

Senior prosecutors and former Scorpions officials Gerrie Nel and Andrew Leask were also reportedly implicated for their role in paying for the bugging equipment.

Sars spokesperson Luther Lebelo told the Sunday Times that he was “deeply shocked” at the claims but declined to comment further, saying it would be inappropriate to do so until a report into the matter, from an independent audit firm and senior counsel, was completed. 

NPA spokesperson Velekhaya Mgobhozi confirmed that the NPA had paid Sars agents more than R900 000 “in relation to security upgrades” at its headquarters.

Read more on:    npa  |  sars  |  hawks  |  gerrie nel  |  johannesburg  |  security

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