Magashula wants answers

2016-10-09 06:00
Oupa Magashula

Oupa Magashula

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Former SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Oupa Magashula is demanding answers from the police and intelligence services about who was responsible for making the recording that cost him his job as taxman.

Magashula, who started his own electronics company after leaving Sars, has vowed not to let the matter rest after revelations that it was crime intelligence operatives, and not Sars’ maligned high-risk investigations unit, who recorded him offering a young woman a job.

At the time, crime intelligence operatives were also illegally monitoring former SA Police Service (SAPS) commissioner Bheki Cele.

The recording, made in 2013, was leaked to City Press by a whistle blower and resulted in an inquiry into Magashula’s offer of a top Sars job to a young woman, prompting his resignation.

The discussion took place on the cellphone of a Durban-based businessman and convicted drug dealer – and now alleged crime intelligence operative – Timmy Marimuthu.

The illicit recording is believed to be one of several made by crime intelligence in unauthorised surveillance operations on Cele and Marimuthu.

Several crime intelligence members – including former KwaZulu-Natal crime intelligence head General Deena Moodley, operatives Warrant Officer Shamalan Moodley, Colonel Brian Padayachee and Colonel Soobramoney Chetty – faced disciplinary action over one of several recordings they allegedly made.

The matter has still not been finalised, but they have returned to work.

A separate docket on the Magashula recording was allegedly opened with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), the police watchdog body.

The involvement of crime intelligence came to light two weeks ago when one of those involved in the leaking of the recording met former Sars executive Johann van Loggerenberg, who led the high-risk investigations unit, and briefed him on the origins of the tape.

Van Loggerenberg, whose unit was accused of tapping Magashula’s phone, has since met his former boss to discuss the matter.

The source, Van Loggerenberg and key Cele allies told City Press that crime intelligence operatives from Durban and Pietermaritzburg recorded Magashula and leaked it to the media via a high-profile Pietermaritzburg magistrate.

The recording was also allegedly made available to a number of high-profile taxpayers who were involved in disputes with Sars.

Magashula is now demanding answers.

“We opened a police case. What has happened with that? We went to the inspector-general of intelligence. What happened to that? We will be going back to both to get answers now,” he said.

“My rights and the rights of others have been violated. Somebody has to be brought to account for what has happened.

"The culture in which people can abuse the resources and facilities of the state for their own means against private individuals like myself has to be ended.

"I have to do something about this, not only for my own sake, but also to ensure that this is not done to other people in the future.

“We need a proper explanation from the intelligence services and the police about what steps they took to investigate this.

"People need to be made to understand that they cannot tap people’s phones and place them under observation illegally,” Magashula said.

Cele – whose phone was tapped by operatives after they allegedly substituted his number for that of an alleged criminal in an application to a judge for a wiretap – said this was only discovered when the application was reviewed.

“This happened when I was the police commissioner. The fact that somebody duped the judge shows how badly somebody wanted to take me out. I could have been attacked physically as I was being tracked,” he said.

“I requested an investigation, but nobody has given me any explanation yet.”

Van Loggerenberg said this finally proved his unit had nothing to do with it.

“One of the very first suggestions around the so-called rogue unit allegations was that this unit had something to do with the matter.

"It was suggested that this unit was supposedly involved in obtaining or acquiring, or in fact intercepting, this conversation, and secondly that former Sars officials, including Adrian Lackay and me, were actively involved in leaking and spreading this recording. This is absolutely false.

“The recording forms part of a longer and more complete conversation that did not include Magashula. It was, in fact, an intercept conducted by crime intelligence officials in KwaZulu-Natal who were investigating Cele, and who then extended their interceptions to include Marimuthu.

“It was suggested that the authority to intercept these communications was the subject of an internal police investigation,” he said.

Van Loggerenberg added that in the “course of intercepting Mr Marimuthu’s communications”, the “snippet was obtained by SAPS crime intelligence”.

The snippet, he said, was then handed to a Pietermaritzburg magistrate “by one of three SAPS crime intelligence members”.

“Doing so was unlawful and the real purpose as to why they did so is not known,” he said.

Advocate Jay Govender, legal adviser for the inspector-general of intelligence, confirmed a complaint had been laid by Magashula and his former deputy, Ivan Pillay, in April 2013 and the matter was “investigated by this office”.

“In terms of the Intelligence Services Oversight Act, the outcome of any investigation emanating from a complaint can only be communicated to the complainant,” she said.

In his submission to the Gordhan inquiry, which he later annexed to his successful Labour Court challenge of his suspension, Pillay said Sars wrote to the inspector-general of intelligence, the State Security Agency and the crime intelligence division requesting that they indicate whether the recording “originated from any of them after it was leaked to the media and articles appeared in this regard”.

“No replies were ever received,” Pillay said in the court papers.

Ipid spokesperson Robbie Raburabu told City Press they had no record of any investigation regarding the matter.

Sars spokesperson Sandile Memela said Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan issued a statement at the time Magashula resigned and that Sars had no further comment to make.

At the time, a Gordhan-appointed inquiry made no findings as to the origin of the recording.

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi did not respond to questions from City Press for two weeks.

Marimuthu did not respond to calls from City Press.

Read more on:    saps  |  sars  |  bheki cele  |  oupa magashula

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